Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Have you spotted the first flowering of elder yet?

Silver birch. Margaret Bartonsilver birch

Betula pendula


Why not download our silver birch fact sheet?

  silver birch fact sheet

  • Slender deciduous tree, up to 30m tall
  • Smooth, silvery-white bark that develops deep, dark fissures with age
  • Oval leaves have double-toothed serrations along edges and neither leaf stems norSilver birch catkins. Ilene Sterns leaves are hairy (that’s downy birch).
  • Male catkins are long, drooping and yellow
  • Female catkins are slender, green and are upright when flowering, drooping in fruit
  • Leaves turn yellow and then golden in autumn

The gherkin-shaped fruiting catkins turn brown in winter and, helped by birds, release tiny winged nutletsSilver birch leaves. Pete Holmes

Where found

Light sandy soils in woodland, heath and moor, also colonises wasteland.

When to look for

Did you know?

  • The poet S T Coleridge referred to the silver birch as the 'Lady of the woods'

  • Silver birch is a genuine native tree, having colonised the UK at the end of the last Ice Age

  • Primroses, violets, wood anemones, bluebells and wood sorrel grow in birch woods

  • Birch leaf tea was traditionally used as a remedy for gout

  • The beautiful fly agaric often grows in association with silver birch, and the razor strop fungus or birch polypore can be seen growing on the trunks of silver birch trees, causing brown rot and eventual death