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BETULA mandshurica var. japonica

Image of Betula mandshurica var. japonica

Russell Stafford

Family

Betulaceae

Botanical Name

BETULA mandshurica var. japonica

Plant Common Name

Japanese White Birch

General Description

A beautiful, upright, white-barked deciduous tree, this native of Japan is the most widely grown variety of Manchurian birch. The single or sometimes branched trunk is clad in chalky, milk-white bark, giving it year-round interest. Attractive elongated pores (lenticels) decorate the trunk and branches. The relatively large, triangular, toothed leaves alternate along dark brown twigs. The leaves turn yellow in autumn. The foliage emerges later in spring than that of typical Manchurian birch, making it less vulnerable to damage from late frosts. Caterpillar-like, yellow-green flower catkins appear in fall, persist through winter, and lengthen in spring, providing ornament during the dormant season.

Somewhat more heat-tolerant than the similar paper birch (Betula papyrifera), this beautiful tree does best in full to partial sun and well-drained, humus-rich soil. It is lovely with needle evergreens, which form a dark backdrop for the white trunk in winter. It is often planted in groups so that the trees will shade each other's roots. The borer-resistant cultivar 'Whitespire' is widely available.

Betula mandshurica sometimes goes under the name Betula platyphlla.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    Japan

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow

  • Bark Color

    White

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Street Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No