Birch (Betula)

Quick facts and care essentials

Trees

• Deciduous
• Climate zones vary
• Full sun or partial shade
• Ample watering
• Growth rate: fast

These familiar trees have fresh green, finely toothed leaves that turn to glowing yellow in autumn. After leaf drop, the trees' delicate limb structure and handsome bark lend beauty to the winter landscape. All are susceptible to aphids, which will drip honeydew onto anything beneath them. The two choices listed below are resistant to bronze birch borer.

River or Red birch (B. nigra). Zones 1-24, 26, 28-43. Eventually forms a pyramidal tree 50 to 90 feet high, 40 to 60 feet wide. Bark is apricot to pinkish on young trees, darker on older ones. Glossy green leaves with silvery undersides reach 3 inches long. Tolerates poor or slow drainage. 'Heritage' is a vigorous selection with larger, glossier leaves.

Japanese white birch (B. platyphylla japonica 'Whitespire'). Zones 2-11, 14-24, 31-41. This narrowly pyramidal, heat-tolerant selection grows 30 to 40 feet tall, 12 to 15 feet wide. Bark is white; leaves reach 3 inches long.