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Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

    Himalayan Birch

  • From - £88.00
Why we like this variety:
  • Striking pure shiny white bark which peels – very dramatic.
  • Leaves chatter audibly when the wind blows – good sensory-garden feature.
  • Excellent all year round feature tree, good for winter gardens.
  • Very easy to grow.
  • Casts a pleasing light shade.
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  • From - £88.00


Summary:

Air-pot container grown for a radial rootsystem. This beautiful tree is deservedly one of the most popular in the UK. Hardy & reliable, it never fails to deliver a good show at any time of the year.

Botanical Name:
  • Betula utilis var. jacquemontii
  • BETULACEÆ; Birch Family
  • Common Name: Himalayan Birch
  • A member of the Betulaceae family along with Alder, Hazel and Hornbeam. It is also closely related to the Beech and Oak family Fagaceae
  • Status: Decidious Tree
  • Origin: Himalaya, China.

Description, habit, uses and attributes:

Although it hails from the Orient, this tree is justifiably one of the most popular for planting in the UK, both in domestic gardens and the wider landscape.

How to use in the landscape and/or garden:

Definitely one of our favourite trees (aside from the brilliant Eucalyptus, of course!).
The canopy of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii is fuller than the traditional Betula pendula and the toothed fresh green leaves are slightly larger and more robust.  Leafing out in spring, along with impressively long catkins, the bright fresh green foliage turns apple green for summer.  The shady canopy is delightfully cool to sit under on a hot summer’s day. By fall the foliage turns buttery yellow and then burnt caramel, before returning the tree to the beautiful pearly white bare branches for winter.  

Good Specimen Tree for the wider landscape, arboretum collection and for the medium/larger garden: majestic as an avenue or a copse.
1) Have a dark evergreen back drop such as Prunus luscitanicus or Ilex aquifolium, to enhance the effect of their bark
2) Under plant with Spring flowering bulbs, Helleborus, Pulmonaria and Primula for an intense display
3) For a low maintenance scheme, introduce Cornus sibirica 'Westonbirt', Cornus kesselringii and Cornus ‘Midwinter Beauty' all under planted with Asplenium scolopendrium and Pachysandra terminalis 'Green Sheen' or English native Bluebells (purchased from a legitimate supplier)

Biometrics

Foliage: apple green during the growing season, turning buttery-golden yellow in autumn


Bark: brilliant white, peeling annually in sections.  In shadier locations, it can acquire lichen, which some people wash off, to enhance the winter display.


Flowers: Male catkins are an impressive 120 mm long, in March-April – enjoyed by small birds. Female catkins (borne on the same tree) are smaller, upright and bright green

Rate of Growth: About 6m over a 10 year period.
Height in maturity:  Ultimately reaching about 15-18m tall x 4m wide in maturity.
Hardiness: Incredibly hardy – it comes from the Himalayas

Planting Position and Soil Preference:

Birch are pioneer trees, often colonising sites previously empty of trees. They need full sun and will tolerate a degree of exposure.
Preferred Soil type:  any normal garden soil, will tolerate clay, happy in moist, but free draining loam. Betula utilis var. jacquemontii  does not enjoy boggy conditions

Make life easier for you and your new tree: Plant with the mycorrhizal fungi product Rootgrow.  Trees have a special, lifelong relationship with their root fungi, which actively transport food and water directly into the tree roots. Rootgrow will help your new tree establish faster and more efficiently, particularly in challenging types of soil.

History of the Tree and meaning of the name:

The naming of this tree has suffered from a degree of confusion, as is often the case with the naming of names!
Nathaniel Wallich first collected specimens of Betula utilis in Nepal in 1820. The botanist David Don later described and named the tree in 1825 from Wallich’s samples. Betula jacquemontii was first described and named in 1841 and later was found to be a variety of Betula utilis.  It was subsequently named after the French botanist Victor Jacquemont who was travelling through India in 1831, when he encountered the Sikh ruler of Kashmir, Ranjit Singh.  The Emperor was so taken by Victor’s enthusiasm for plants that he granted him free licence to explore his country; a privilege that had not been extended to any other European.  

The specific epithet 'utilis' refers to the many applications of all parts of the tree:
1) The bark has been used for hundreds of years as writing parchment for Sanskrit scriptures.
2) Today, the bark is still used as the parchment for sacred mantras. Once written, these tiny spiritual scrolls are worn around the neck, secured inside an amulet, bestowing good fortune, protection and blessings on the wearer.
3) With a more daily practical application, the bark can be used as packaging for food and can even be used as a bandage to help arrest bleeding.
4) The sap, when tapped in spring like a sugar Maple, can provide a refreshing drink or fermented into Birch sap wine. N.B. it is important to plug the hole in the tree bark after tapping to prevent the tree from bleeding to death.

Birchwood is a dense hardwood often logged in Scandinavian countries and Russia for firewood.  The durable timber is used to manufacture furniture, handles, toys and during the hey-day of the Lancashire cotton industry, it was used for reels, spools and bobbins.  The bark can be used for tanning leather.
In Celtic mythology, the Birch tree is a symbol of renewal and purification. Bunches of Birch twigs were used to drive evil spirits out of the house at New Year.  Many gardeners still use besom brooms made from birch twigs to clean their gardens.
It is also a tradition to plant a group of three white stemmed birch trees at the entrance of your property for good fortune and to ward off evil spirits.

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