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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Betula pendula - European Weeping Birch

Perhaps one of the most popular trees in northern climates, the European White Birch is not as popular along the coast partially due to its need for water and being deciduous. It is by far the most common birch seen in SC, partially because the others have not been available as long. You may notice them more in the winter due to their habit than in the summer.

These are large (30-50'), fast growing deciduous trees with an oval to pyramidal habit with upright spreading laterals and weeping minor branches giving it a very nice soft shape. Sensational tree, love the weeping habit, the drooping branchlets from the main laterals. Generally looks best in groves. You may recognize this on on Mission Blvd. You might run into a "clump birch" which could any birch species but has 3 individual trees growing in the same pot. 



You can see the form more easily in winter. And, its very clear that most people plant them in groves.



Notice the small lateral branches are seriously weeping while the strong laterals are more upright.



The leaves are alternately arranged, 1.5-3" long, ovate to deltoid or rhomboid shaped with serrated margins and the tip can be (but not always) very much acuminate.



Twigs are reddish-brown with lots of whitish glands.



Male flowers in a 2-3" long catkin overwintering, usually in 3's. Female emerging in spring, red color and erect on lateral branches. These are the male catkins, the image below is the catkins open.





Fruit are little nutlets retained in the same structure as the female flowers, with a distinct bract separating each fruit, looks sort like a fleur de lis. We used to pull the seeds and bracts off the stalk and put them down our friends shirts.



Not one of the better birches for winter interest as the black starts earlier than other 'white bark birches". The bark is chalky and comes off in very thin sheets. Along with the fruit we used to pull the bark off in strips.



Fantastic fall colors of various yellows, this was up north and they do not color like this here.




Many cultivars available. 'Dalecarlica' is the cutleaf birch which I will cover later. 'Youngii' is a popular weeping cultivar. This one is in Capitola.


There are several purple leaved ones floating around. 


 The little dwarf one is fun. 'Trosts Dwarf'.



There are other birch trees here, from what I have seen, in decreasing popularity, B. jacqumontii, B. nigra, B. pendula 'Dalecarlica', B. papyrifera.

Misidentification: Other birches perhaps, the B. jacquemontii looks pretty similar but the young twigs are hairy and the buds are short rather than long. B. papyrifera is pretty similar but the leaves are not generally rhomboid nor does the tree have the weeping habit seen with B. pendula. I dont recall where this image came from, but you can see some of the typical birch leaf shapes.



Locations:
the one on Mission is pretty nice, and just a block away towards downtown you can find a grove of cutleaf birches as well as a jacquemontii (white bark birch) on the other side of the street.

2 comments:

  1. Peter,

    I am a volunteer working on this year's Friends' School Plant Sale in St. Paul, MN. This sale has grown to be the largest annual plant sale in Minnesota; it raises a good deal of scholarship money for the school and has for over 20 years. We have a wonderful print catalog each year, but it can only accommodate photos of a small percentage of the plants we offer. Our goal is to have a picture of each plant offered on the website. I am a volunteer tasked with finding the pictures for new plants and I am have a difficult time finding good photos of the dwarf Trost's birch You have a beautiful pictures on this blog page.

    Might we use it? Proper attribution would be given.

    If we find a few others that we need, might we use them as well?

    If you would like to know more about our plant sale, here is our website: www.friendsschoolplantsale.com/history/ or you can ask me!

    Please contact me if you have any questions,

    Laurie Krivitz
    lkrivitz@comcast.net

    ReplyDelete
  2. Peter,

    I am a volunteer working on this year's Friends' School Plant Sale in St. Paul, MN. This sale has grown to be the largest annual plant sale in Minnesota; it raises a good deal of scholarship money for the school and has for over 20 years. We have a wonderful print catalog each year, but it can only accommodate photos of a small percentage of the plants we offer. Our goal is to have a picture of each plant offered on the website. I am a volunteer tasked with finding the pictures for new plants and I am have a difficult time finding good photos of betula Trost's Dwarf.
    You have a beautiful pictures of it on your blog.

    Might we use it? Proper attribution would be given.

    If we find others that we need, might we use them as well?

    If you would like to know more about our plant sale, here is our website:http://www.friendsschoolplantsale.com/history/ or you can ask me!

    Please contact me if you have any questions,

    Laurie Krivitz
    lkrivitz@comcast.net

    ReplyDelete