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BETULA populifolia 'Whitespire'

Image of Betula populifolia 'Whitespire'

Family

Betulaceae

Botanical Name

BETULA populifolia 'Whitespire'

Plant Common Name

Gray Birch, Whitespire Gray Birch

General Description

After thirty years of trials, 'Whitespire' has proven to be quite resistant to the bronze birch borer that plagues its parent species, the grey birch. The parent hails from New England into Nova Scotia, inhabiting large tracts of forest, but also growing in association with swamps, bogs, streams and other wetlands. The upright trunk of ‘Whitespire’ is typically single, with horizontal branches and beautiful whitish bark streaked with gray markings, an eye-catching sight in winter when the tree is bare.

The leaves are long, serrated and green, and hang gracefully on the finely spotted dark twigs. At the end of the season, they turn yellow. This birch blooms in spring with long, slender catkins that appear before the leaves, creating a beautiful scrim in the early garden.

This tree is quite useful due to its shade tolerance. Planted with needled evergreens, it stands out vividly in winter against their dark backdrop. In the wild, it prefers to live in groves, while in the garden it is typically planted in groups so that the narrow canopies can better shade the root zone. It’s also a problem solver for wet grounds where less water tolerant trees fail. However, beware of planting close to water or sewer lines as this is an avid moisture seeker.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 6

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    30'-40' / 9.1m - 12.2m

  • Width

    15'-30' / 4.6m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Poorly Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow

  • Bark Color

    White, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • 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