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Silver birch bark

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Betula pendula
Silver Birch Tree

The Silver Birch is a medium-sized deciduous tree that owes its common name to the white peeling bark on the trunk. The twigs are slender and often pendulous and the leaves are roughly triangular with doubly serrate margins, turning yellow in the autumn before they fall. The flowers are catkins and the light, winged seed get widely scattered by the wind. The silver birch is a hardy tree; a pioneer species and one of the first trees to appear on bare or fire swept land.

Availability: In stock

From: £69.95


Root Type Supplied Size Form Availability Unit Price Qty
12L Pot 175-200cm Single Stem Tree In Stock
From £69.95

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From: £69.95

Betula pendula, common name Silver Birch is a species of tree in the Betulaceae family. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia. It typically reaches a height of 15- 25m, with a slender trunk usually under 40 cm in diameter.

Planting Position
Suitable for most locations and soil types, although prefers light soils, wasteland or forest clearings.

Growth Rate: Medium
Final Height: 15-25 m
Final Spread: Approximately 8m

Foliage and Leaves
The bark on the trunk and branches is golden-brown at first but later turns white as papery tissue develops on the surface, which peels off in flakes. The bark remains smooth until the tree gets quite large, but in older trees, the bark thickens, becomes irregular, dark and rugged. Young branches have whitish resin warts and the twigs are slender, hairless and often pendulous. The buds are small and sticky and development is sympodial, that to say the terminal bud dies away and growth continues from a lateral bud. Some shoots are long and bear the male catkins at the tip in the autumn while others are short and bear the female catkins that develop soon after the leave unfurl in the spring. The leaves have short slender stalks and are 3-7 cm, long and triangular with a broad, entire, wedge-shaped bases, slender pointed tips and coarsely double toothed serrated margins. They are sticky with resin at first but this dries as they age leaving small white scales. The foliage is a pale to medium green and returns yellow early in the autumn before leaves fall. The male catkins expand and release pollen and the females mature in mid summer and then wind pollination takes place in autumn. The small 1-mm winged seeds ripen in late summer on pendulous, cylindrical catkins 2-4 cm long and 7mm broad. The seeds are numerous and when ripe the whole catkin disintegrates and the seeds are spread by the wind.

Plant Interest
The Silver Birch provides food and habitat for more than 300 insects, ranging from aphids which then attract ladybirds, to caterpillars. They are also known for specific fungi, including birch brittlegrill, chanterelle and razor strop to name a few. Woodpeckers often nest in holes in the trunk, and the seeds attract siskins, greenfinches and redpolls.

Landscape Use
Silver Birch works well in cleared forest areas and waste land. It can also used as an attractive specimen tree in a garden.

Uses timber/logs/windbreak/etc
Historically Silver Birch was used for making bobbins, spools and reels for the Lancashire cotton industry. Today it is used for the making of furniture and toys.

Planting may be carried out at any time between early-November and mid-May.

Planting Willow and Poplar Setts / Cuttings

The cuttings are quick and easy to plant. They are provided with a slanted cut at the base and a straight cut at the top to make insertion into the ground easier and distinguish top from bottom. They can simply be pushed into loose cultivated soil and firmed in. They will need no support. In firmer soils simply make a vertical slit with a spade and push the cutting to the bottom of the slit and firm well by treading. Alternatively a narrow hole may be made with a bar or spike and the cutting pushed to the bottom and firmed well. For larger-scale planting schemes, a mole-plough or subsoil blade may be pulled through the ground in rows and the cuttings simply pushed into the loosened soil slit and firmed in by foot.

In order to get strong root development, you must ensure there is sufficient length below the soil level. The smallest cuttings (30cm / 1ft) must be planted so that only 5cm (2") is showing above ground. This makes them vulnerable to being smothered by weeds and grass before they get away, and so they are only suited to situations where they will receive a high standard of care in the early days. The two foot long cuttings (60 cm) are planted so that half is in the soil. Being larger they contain greater reserves of energy and grow away faster. In most situations the 60cm (2ft) cuttings are the best option and will produce a tree, if looked after, of 180-240cm (6 - 8ft) high in the first growing season.

All the cuttings are vulnerable to surrounding competition and often the reason for failure is down to the freshly planted cuttings having to compete with existing vegetation in the early stages, whilst they are trying to grow new roots. It is always best to clear the area of any existing vegetation where possible and keep control of this during the first 18 months in order to give the plants the best chance of success.


Planting Bare Root Whips and Hedging

Bare root plants can planted by notch or pit planting methods. For more information, please download this helpsheet.

Planting bare root whips and hedging help sheet


The decision on whether to plant rooted trees and/or which size of cuttings will depend on:

      - How easy a job you want planting to be

      - How well you will look after your trees 

      - Your soil type and site

      - How quickly you need results


All sizes of cutting root equally well.

The smallest one foot long (30 cm) cuttings must be planted so that only 2 inches (5 cm) is showing above ground. This makes them vulnerable to being smothered by weeds and grass before they get away, and so they are only suited to situations where they will receive a high standard of care in the early days. The two foot long cuttings (60 cm) are planted so that half is in the soil. This means that the new growth starts above weed and grass height. Being larger they also contain greater reserves of energy and grow away faster. 

In most situations the 2 foot long (60 cm) cuttings are the best option and will produce a tree, if looked after, of 6 - 8ft high in the first growing season.

On dry sites such as sands and gravels, or on banks, we would suggest that you plant a longer cutting and insert a larger proportion into the soil. Both the hybrid willows and poplars have the ability to make roots from any part of the stem and so, if planted deeply, will produce deep roots, which will always find moisture. 

The rooted trees and longer cuttings will cope better with difficult conditions and weed or grass competition to give instantly visible results.

Further information on rooted or unrooted plants can be found here.


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Our bare root plants and cuttings are delivered between November and May (specific dates cannot be guaranteed) but we do encourage early planting for the best results.


Most orders are dispatched within 3-5 working days where stocks are available. If they are not available at the time of order you will be notified and an alternative delivery date discussed with you. 

Our e-Gift Vouchers will be sent out within 24 hours of order.

We ship to mainland UK and the Isle of Wight (although surcharges may be incurred in some more remote areas – see below). Our orders are generally sent out using a national courier but for local deliveries, we may use our own couriers. Orders can also be collected from the nursery by prior appointment and we are more than happy for you to do this if you prefer. 

Our standard delivery charge is £15 plus VAT. This is for a next day delivery service in areas where this is available (i.e. mainland UK). For some of our products, such as seeds and planting accessories, the delivery charge is £4.95 + VAT. Our e-Gift Vouchers do not incur a delivery charge (please select 'Free Shipping' at the Checkout). For further information about Delivery, please click here.

There's usually no need to wait in for a delivery, our couriers will leave it in a safe place for you. If there is somewhere in particular you would like it left, please let us know at the time of ordering.


It is important to look after your trees as they mature so now click on After-Planting Care for some useful guide-lines.