leaves are alternate,
oval to wedge-shaped, about 2.5-5 cm long with narrow pointed tips,
and are hairless. The margins are clearly double-toothed whilst the
leaf stalks are 1-2 cm long and also hairless.
Silver birch is
a deciduous tree
with a single trunk up to 30m in height and it has pendulous branches.
Silver birch grows in woods and on heathland especially on light sandy
soils. It is more tolerant of dry soils than downy birch.
The young shoots
are hairless and shiny and often covered in tiny white warts (lenticels).
The bark of mature
trees is silvery-white but with black, diamond-shaped patches near
The male and
catkins are on
the same tree (monoecious)
and open in April. The pendant males are 3-6 cm long, whilst the
erect females are short, 1-2 cm long.
is one of the most valuable trees for wildlife supporting 230 species
of insect including buff tip moths and sawflies.
timber is much used for furniture-making, wooden floors and broom-heads.
The twigs are
valuable for making besom brooms, forest-fire beaters and jumps
birch (B. pubescens) is similar. Hybrids
between the two species are, however, commonly found.