Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)

The Downy Birch tree (Betula pubescens) is a fast growing tree that can reach heights of 20m (65ft). In their early years, Downy Birch trees may grow up to one metre a year.

  • Downy Birch Tree  -  Betula Pubescens  -  Mature Tree
  • Downy Birch Tree  -  Betula Pubescens  -  Leaves

Useful info about Downy Birch trees

Latin NameBetula pubescens
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 20 metres (65 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 5 - 10 metres (15 - 35 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Parks, Patios
FlowersYellow-brown catkins in early spring
Celtic Tree MonthDecember 24 - January 20

Similar Species


The young shoots of the Downy Birch tree are velvety with soft white hairs. Their bark is first red-brown, but becomes a smooth grey-white without the black diamonds seen on silver birch.

Birch may begin to produce seed when six or seven years old. Male catkins shed pollen in April. The female flowers (borne on the same tree) develop into bracts, each bearing dozens of winged seed. These ripen in September and October.

Downy Birch trees are found chiefly on acid soils and prefers damp sites, such as fens, bogs, by lakes, and in areas of high rainfall or impeded drainage. They produce seed abundantly and are able to colonise open ground with quick growing, light demanding seedlings.

It is often the dominant vegetation until taller growing trees overtop it they grow well in poorly drained areas where other birch may not thrive.


The sap from Downy Birch trees can be harvested to make wine.

Its bark is used for tanning certain kinds of leather although the most familiar use of birch is for making traditional broomsticks.

It is important to the timber industry, not directly for timber, but as a nurse crop to young timber trees.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

Downy Birch trees are believed to represent renewal, purification, love and fertility.

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