Birch trees are a striking, medium-sized deciduous trees native throughout the UK and Europe.
Scientific name: Betula pendula Family: Betulaceae
Birch trees can be used to improve soil quality for other plants to grow. The silver birch tree’s deep roots bring otherwise inaccessible nutrients into the tree.
Mature birch trees can reach 30m in height, forming a light canopy with elegant, drooping branches. The silver birch tree’s white bark sheds layers like tissue paper and becomes black and rugged at the base.
Leaves: light green, small and ovate with a toothed edge, which fade to yellow in autumn.
Flowers: birch trees are monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers (catkins) are found on the same tree, from April to May. Male catkins are long and yellow-brown in colour, and hang in groups of two to four at the tips of shoots, like lambs’ tails. Female catkins are smaller, short, bright green and erect.
Fruits: after successful pollination (by wind), female catkins thicken and change colour to a dark crimson. Masses of tiny seeds are borne in autumn, which are dispersed by wind.
Plant birch trees in an area with no other trees or plants nearby. Birch trees need to become established before you add complementary landscape plants. Water birch trees deeply after planting. Mulch a 3-foot radius around the tree. Use about a 2-inch layer of mulch. Do not mulch next to the trunk. Stake the tree. Stakes can generally be removed after one year. A good test is to move the tree trunk, and if the root ball doesn’t move, the stake is no longer needed.
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