Betula Pendula, the Silver Birch is one of our most familiar deciduous trees, sometimes known as warty birch or white birch, it is favoured by gardeners for its silver trunk and small size. Fully grown it can reach 30 metres but is always slender and with its small dense leaves seems elegant. It is native to Europe and stretches across to northern Asia.
It provides food and habitat for as many as 300 insect species! The leaves are also a food plant for the caterpillars of many moths, including the angle-shades, buff tip, pebble hook-tip, and Kentish glory. These attract birds but so do the seeds favoured by siskins, greenfinches and redpolls. The softwood also make it a favourite of woodpeckers and other hole-nesting birds.
Funky Fact File: It is known to woodsmen as the ‘lady of the forest’ and is often left standing when all the trees around it are felled. It is also one of the first to spring up after fires or felling in scrubland and marsh. Birch trees are particularly associated with particular fungi such as fly agaric, woolly milk cap, birch milk cap, birch brittlegill, birch knight, chanterelle and the birch polypore (razor strop). The bark contains triterpenes which have medicinal properties.