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Birch - Silver (Betula pendula)

Betulaceae family

Code: Bet pendula
  • £0.50 (ex. VAT)
Item in Stock   |   Delivery within a few days

Key Features

Silver birch trees (Betula pendula) are

- Suitable as a woodland tree or urban tree, the commonest native woodland tree in Britain

- Native

- Deciduous

- Suitable for areas near livestock (non-toxic)

- Some of our bare root Silver Birch trees are from "improved" seed which means the seed has been harvested from trees that are especially bred for forestry and productive woodlands, grown from Future Trees Trust origin stock (please speak to us if you are planting for forestry/productive woodlands (ie for timber production in due course) so that we can ensure we allocate your order from the orchard seed batch - see our blog on seed provenance.

Grown by us in Herefordshire. Buy with confidence - read our customer reviews.

The specifications shown below are our normal range but we often have additional options.  If there is something that you are looking for, it's often worth contacting us.

Please Email Us or call 01989552028 if you would prefer to order on the phone or have any questions or to discuss a discount for larger quantities.



British Grown
Minimum Order Value £1000 +VAT
Free delivery over £3,000+VAT*
Trade terms available for orders over £5,000+VAT
Planting Essentials
Bagging Options
Product Options Height Age Root Type Specification 1+ 100+ 500+ Quantity Qty
Silver birch (Betula pendula) Height: 30-40cm Age: 1 yr Root Type: Bare Root Specification: 1+0 seedling Silver birch (Betula pendula) 1+ £0.75 (ex. VAT) 100+ £0.55 (ex. VAT) 500+ £0.50 (ex. VAT) Please Purchase in Multiples of: 25
30-40cm 1 yr Bare Root 1+0 seedling £0.75 (ex. VAT) £0.55 (ex. VAT) £0.50 (ex. VAT)
Silver birch (Betula pendula) Height: 20-60cm Age: 1 yr Root Type: Cell grown Specification: cell grown Silver birch (Betula pendula) 1+ £1.40 (ex. VAT) 100+ £1.30 (ex. VAT) 500+ £1.20 (ex. VAT) Please Purchase in Multiples of: 12
20-60cm 1 yr Cell grown cell grown £1.40 (ex. VAT) £1.30 (ex. VAT) £1.20 (ex. VAT)
Silver birch (Betula pendula) Height: 40-60cm Age: 1 yr Root Type: Bare Root Specification: 1+0 seedling Silver birch (Betula pendula) 1+ £0.80 (ex. VAT) 100+ £0.65 (ex. VAT) 500+ £0.60 (ex. VAT) Please Purchase in Multiples of: 25
40-60cm 1 yr Bare Root 1+0 seedling £0.80 (ex. VAT) £0.65 (ex. VAT) £0.60 (ex. VAT)
Silver birch (Betula pendula) Height: 60-80cm Age: 1 yr Root Type: Bare Root Specification: 1+0 seedling Silver birch (Betula pendula) 1+ £0.85 (ex. VAT) 100+ £0.75 (ex. VAT) 500+ £0.70 (ex. VAT) Please Purchase in Multiples of: 25
60-80cm 1 yr Bare Root 1+0 seedling £0.85 (ex. VAT) £0.75 (ex. VAT) £0.70 (ex. VAT) Out of stock | Email me when back in stock
Total: £0.00 (ex. VAT)

Our range of Silver Birch bare root trees (Betula pendula)

We have Silver Birch bare root trees in several sizes and specifications.   The 1+0 specification plants are seedlings (often called whips) which were sown from seed in the spring and are sold during the following November to April months when dormant ie they are one year old.  We have Silver Birch bare root whips in several heights. These tree saplings are grown by us in Herefordshire.

We also have cell grown Silver Birch trees which are grown by one of the UK's best specialist growers and these are ideal for forestry, woodland creation and amenity planting schemes.  Cell grown plants are available all year round.

We always have several batches of Betula pendula seed from which we grow the tree saplings - including orchard seed which is the highest possible quality tree seed for trees to be grown for timber.  We generally also have local British provenance seed and sometimes some of the highest quality imported seed so if it is particularly important to you to have orchard seed or UK provenance seed, please give us a call.

You can read more about the various specifications we offer in each species on the tab just below our pricing table to the right of this product description.

Silver Birch (Betula pendula) Summary

Silver birch are medium sized graceful, slender native trees with pendulous branches angled at 45 degrees, and a light airy canopy, often planted quite close together to striking affect.  Their trunks are light coloured, greyish white, developing darker near the base as the tree matures and fissured into rough diamond shapes and the distinctive white bark sheds in layers.  The branches are very thin and twiggy (picture a birch besom broom which is made from birch twigs).

Downy Birch tends to be the birch tree of choice in Scotland.  This blog explains the differences between Silver birch and Downy birch and on this page we concentrate on Silver Birch.

Sometimes called "lady of the woods" a term given to silver birch by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, they like to grow in a sunny situation, and when mature create a light, open atmosphere (ethereal in winter) and perfect conditions for a range of woodland ground cover plants and shrubs to grow and for shade loving trees to thrive.  They tend not to regenerate (despite millions of tiny windborne seeds) because they like an open aspect and disturbed soil to germinate.  They do their job of helping new woodlands to establish quickly, and then they leave the long term job to oak trees and beech trees, living only to about 80-100 years.  As well as being an excellent pioneer woodland tree (read more about pioneer trees in our blog). they are useful to plant as a shelter belt to protect slower growing species.

They are tolerant of a range of temperatures including very cold. Silver birch trees can improve soil quality - their widespreading roots gather nutrients into the tree which then relinquishes them into the soil when the leaves drop.

The leaves are eaten by aphids which then attracts a range of other wildlife which feed on the aphids. They are a vital habitat for over 300 insect species as well as providing a nesting site for hole-nesters like woodpeckers. 

Birch is one of the strongest timbers commonly grown in Britain only slightly less dense than Beech and it is more dense than Sycamore.  The wood works and finishes well and can be used for furniture, fittings and paper.  Silver birch wood burns hot (spits in open fires so best reserved for stoves) and it makes good charcoal. It is not grown much for timber in Britain, but that is probably more to do with the quality of the existing stands of trees and the new birch orchards that are now producing improved seed will address that.  We know that Birch is a very important timber species in Scandinvia (particularly Finland) for veneers, plywood and pulp. It can produce valuable timber in relatively short rotations (as short as 40 years) if grown on good sites.

Only approx 10% of the bare root Betula pendula trees grown from seed in this country are from orchard seeds and only a handful of nurseries grow "improved birch" which is the best for forestry/productive woodlands having been bred from carefully selected "plus" trees.  The process to produce seed from improved birch trees (once suitable trees have been identified) is to take plant material from the plus trees and graft it onto rootstocks, grow on in carefully supervised conditions for at least 2 years, and then plant out into an orchard and wait for about 15 more years for seed production to be viable.  RJ Trees and Hedging is one of the very few nurseries growing improved birch trees from orchard seed.   We have a blog on seed provenance which covers seed orchards.

Soil and Situation

All soil types are suitable and the ideal situation is moist, well drained soil, in full sun or light shade but they will also cope with dry soil.  For the north of Scotland and far west and higher altitudes, Downy Birch is the popular birch species, but silver birch is grown all over the UK and is more common in the south and east of Britain.  Although birches do best in rich, fresh soils, they are able to survive and grow on the most forbidding landscapes including mine spoils, landslides and drained peatlands.  It tolerates a soil pH as low as 3.3. If birch is being grown for timber then it is advisable to grow it on good sites capable of sustaining a fast growth rate - freely drained, light mineral soils are best.   Grown on infertile, exposed, uplands means birch is unlikely to produce quality timber even with management, but it is still useful for conservation and amenity and there can be some timber use like firewood and pulp.

Leaves, flowers, fruit and bark

The leaves are quite small (about 3-5cm), alternate, triangular or “arrow head” shaped with jagged teeth on the edges, on hairless stalks about 2cm long.  They come into leaf early in spring which helps explain the association of this species with fertility and renewal in Celtic mythology.

Male and female flowers occur on the same tree.  The male are yellow drooping catkins at the end of twigs.  Female catkins are green and upright and are pollinated by wind, after which they turn red before dispersing seed.  The seed ripens from July to October and each catkins contains about 450 seeds so seed falls can be very large with 250,000 seeds per m2 recorded.

The bark is a main feature of silver birch trees. Although the bark appears delicate, it is remarkably tough and contains oils that have both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and as a result birch bark has been used since pre-historic times for baskets, footwear and canoes as well as a building material.  The bark stores waxy resins which was used in ancient times as a glue and can be used nowadays as a firelighter. The bark is patterned with horizontal lines (called lenticels), which act as channels for gas exchange and help the tree to shed pollutants and clean out its breathing pores.

Eventual height and growth rate of Silver birch trees

The eventual height is about 20-30m and growth rate is fast for the first 20 years, after which growth is slow.  They are not very long living trees - about 50-100 years is the norm.  When establishing birch woodlands it is important that the top of the plant is clear of competing vegetation so good weed control is essential and weeding should be done by the beginning of summer to ensure good light levels for the birch trees.





This section gives definitions on the specifications of plants that we sell.  We are specialists in field grown (or bare root) plants which are grown in two ways.  The majority are grown from seed, some are ready within one growing season (seedlings or 1+0's) and some species require two growing seasons (1u1's).  In addition to growing from seed we also grow from small plants or cuttings (transplants) which are much more widely spaced (taking more land, more irrigation water, fertilisers and labour).  There are only a handful of bare root wholesale nurseries in the UK and of those even fewer grow transplants but Ray Jenkins has many years' experience of transplanting so we grow these in large volumes.  Ray has written this blog about the benefits of bare root plants and how they are grown and another blog which gives further detail on bare root specifications.

The detailed specifications are shown below.  If you are in doubt about what specification to use please email us on with a description of the project (and photos if appropriate) and we will advise you.

1+0 - field grown in one season from seed, known as a seedling (sometimes called a whip), generally a slender single stem plant.   These are the cheapest specification and are particularly suitable for planting where weed competition will be less intense, soil is shallow or on exposed windy sites.  Gives a high root to shoot ratio and minimal plant "check".

2+0 - a 2 year seedling, field grown from seed in the same seed bed in two growing seasons where the species cannot be grown to a saleable plant from seed in one season

1U1 - 2 year old plant called an undercut, field grown for two seasons in the same seed bed and undercut by machine (a sharp blade cutting the roots under the soil level) after the first year to develop the root structure. We do this with several species which take 2 years to develop (eg oak, beech, hornbeam)

1+1 - 2 year old plant (transplant) grown from seed in the first year and then transplanted into a different area of the field and spaced out for the second growing season - a robust plant with a larger and more robust root system than seedling or undercut plant which will enable it to better withstand drought and weed competition. Often the best choice and the staple norm for farm hedging and this specification is a requirement of the Countryside Stewardship Grant

1+2- a 3 year old plant, two years field growing in the seedbed and then transplanted (and spaced out) for a further two growing seasons giving a tall, stocky, bushy plant

2+1- a 3 year old plant, two years field growing in the seedbed and then transplanted (and spaced out) for a further growing season, giving a strong bushy plant

3+1 - as above but field grown for a further growing season for more height and a very bushy plant

1+3- 4 year old, one year field growing in the seed beds and then transplanted (and spaced out) for three years, giving a very strong, bushy plant

2+2- 4 year old, two years field growing in the seed beds and then transplanted (and spaced out) for a further two years - a very mature plant suited to certain species like beech and hornbeam where we can offer almost instant hedging

and some that are a bit different.....

P9 - a plant grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel in a 9cm pot (for holly which germinates poorly in the field)

Cell grown - a plant grown in small deep cells (like a small yogurt pot) and then lifted out of those for transportation. Commonly used in forestry and large hedging projects.  Very high quality plants with excellent success rate.  See our blog on the benefits of cell grown plants.

C+1 or C+2 - a 3 or 4 year old plant initally started as hardwood cuttings grown on for a year as cell grown plants and then lined out in fields to grow on for a further 1 or 2 years (a technique used for Cherry Laurel)

0/1 - a hardwood cutting, then field grown for one season (for example for white willow, black poplar and osier)