Tree Information



Wet Soil: High

Dry Soil: Medium

Lime: Medium

The birch tree family boasts a vast lineage spread across the world. In the UK, we recognise two native siblings: Betula pendula, the sister, and Betula pubescens, her brother.

Much like many siblings, the younger brother, pubescens, shares similarities with his sister, but displays distinct characteristics. He possesses a darker bark with pronounced horizontal grooves, compared to his sisters lighter hue. While the silver birch boasts an elegant, pendulous canopy, the Downy birch presents a more upright, ascending one. Its leaves are rounder, adorned with the ‘Downy’ white hairs on the underside and stalk, which explains its given name.

Adapted to endure, the Downy birch thrives in colder, wetter soils, contrasting with his sisters inclination for drier environments.

Both siblings play crucial roles in our ecosystem, supporting a diverse array of over 300 insect and bird species. Remarkably, these birches were instrumental in regenerating the UK landscape after the last Ice Age.

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10m high x 5m wide after 25 years


Young leaves feel soft due to numerous fine hairs, which is why it is called Downy birch. They are a vibrant green hue and have a diamond-like shape. Turn golden yellow in autumn.


The bark starts ff brown in its early stages, but transitions to a white shade as it matures, shedding in slender sheets. Twigs are brown and feature a soft, hairy texture.


Emerging in early spring before the foliage, these are wind-pollinated and upon maturity, break down to release countless winged seeds.


Thrives in a variety of soils and exhibits a strong tolerance for waterlogged and peaty conditions.

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