Exceptional trees - birch

We’ve always been fans of birch trees at Genus HQ and on moving here over a decade ago we immediately planted several, including the beautiful white stemmed Betula utilis var. Jacquemontii, and the black river birch Betula nigra with amazingly shaggy, flaking bark.

Luckily for us, the National Arboretum at Westonbirt is not far away and it is here that they boast the UK’s largest specimen of Betula ermanii or Erman’s Birch.  At 22 metres in height and with a girth of over 4 metres it dwarfs any of the trees we have planted.  Introduced to Germany by 24 year old physicist Georg Adolf Erman it was another 60 years before these trees made it to England.  One was planted at Westonbirt shortly afterwards.

Originating in north-east Asia and Japan it displays pink-tinged, creamy bark and is one of the first birches to come into leaf, with its butter yellow autumn leaves often the first to fall in the autumn.  This species has proved to be a popular urban tree tolerating many soil types and coping well with reflected heat and light with the bark of particular note during the winter months.  Effective as individuals or in groups, 'Holland’ and ‘Grayswood Hill’ cultivars are popular and readily available as bare root youngsters or large potted mature specimens.