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Plant Profile: Himalayan White Birch (Betula utilis var jacquemontii )

Betula utilis var jacquemontii Himalyan white birch bark detailThe Himalayan white birch is admired for its very white paper-like bark,considered whiter than even the European white birch. The bark is rich brown when the trees are young but turns white as the tree matures and provides year round interest in the garden. The dark green leaves are oblong, up to five inches long, doubly toothed, and turn buttery yellow in the fall. Light brown male catkins up to five inches long and short female catkins appear in the late spring to summer. The fruits ripen in the fall. The specific name, utilis, refers to the many uses of the tree. The bark has been used for paper for centuries and for such mundane things as packing, the wood in construction as well as for firewood, and the foliage for fodder. Deforestation is a problem in some areas.

Type: Deciduous tree

Outstanding Feature: White bark; buttery yellow leaves in fall

Form: Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

Bloom: Long pale brown male catkins up to five inches long and short female catkins are produced in late spring to summer.

Size: 60-75’ H x 30-50’ W

Light: Full sun to light shade

Soil: Moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 5-7

Care: Remove dead or deformed limbs when needed.

Pests and Diseases: Rust, leafspot, mildew, sawflies, aphids

Propagation: Softwood cuttings; grafting

Outstanding Selection:
‘Doorenbos’ (Bark peels to reveal pale orange new bark)
‘Grayswood Ghost’
‘Jermyns’ (6 ¾ “ male catkins)
‘Silver Shadow’ (Whitest of all)