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Silver birch woodland - licensed under Creative Commons Wikicommons/SeppVei

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.

botanical drawings of silver birch tree

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.

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