Despite its graceful appearance, the silver birch is one of Britain’s hardiest trees. In the past its sacred properties made the birch useful for expelling evil spirits from delinquents.
A natural pioneer species, it seeds freely and is able to colonise open land with a preference for lowland. The silver birch - or Betula pendula - is found throughout the country on light, dry soils and is a valuable conservation species.
Facts and stats
- Lifespan: 120 years
- Height: Up to 24 metres tall with spreading lower branches and the rest pointing up.
- Leaves: Triangular, which turn yellow before falling.
- Bark: Its silvery-white upper bark is papery and peeling.
- Insect species it supports: 334
- Native to: Europe, North Africa and West Asia
- Uses: Its pale, smooth timber is a hardwood and silver birch timber is often used in plywood production, brush backs, toys and reels. On a lesser scale, the twigs are cut to make besom brooms and horse jumps.