Silver birch (SBI)
We use some essential cookies to make this website work.
We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use forestresearch.gov.uk, remember your settings and improve our services.
Preparing to search
Native to all parts of the British Isles up to the tree line.
British seed sources of good form or material from breeding programmes should be used. Avoid seed sources from more continental European climates.
A light demanding pioneer species with fast early growth which is both frost resistant and windfirm. Grows on a wide range of mineral soils from very poor to medium nutrient status but on wetter soils it tends to be replaced by downy birch. It is a relatively short lived species and mature trees often die after a severe drought (e.g. 1976, 2003). It often colonises restock sites where mixtures with both conifers and broadleaves can develop.
Widespread and gradual dieback of birch occurs in some areas, especially in young trees 5-10 years after planting. Rust pathogen Melamsporidium betulinum is considered important on birch in several European countries, associated with retarded height growth and increased mortality. Provenance and environmental conditions play a role in infection levels. On silver birch two canker fungi are particularly associated with the dieback – Discula betulina and Marssonina betulae. Provenance may be an important factor in determining susceptibility to these diseases, although climatic variables also play a part. Betula is also rated as very susceptible to Armillaria root rot (honey fungus).
The use of silver birch in British forestry has increased over recent decades and this is likely to continue but with climate change the species may be increasingly vulnerable to drought on drier sites.
Silver birch is categorised as a Principal tree species. These are species which are currently widely used for forestry and will continue to be a dominant unless affected by a new pest or disease or adversely affected by climate change.
Cookies are files saved on your phone, tablet or computer when you visit a website.
We use 3 types of cookie. You can choose which cookies you're happy for us to use.
These essential cookies do things like remember your progress through a form. They always need to be on.
We use Google Analytics to measure how you use the website so we can improve it based on user needs. Google Analytics sets cookies that store anonymised information about: how you got to the site the pages you visit on forestresearch.gov.uk and how long you spend on each page what you click on while you're visiting the site
Some forestresearch.gov.uk pages may contain content from other sites, like YouTube or Flickr, which may set their own cookies. These sites are sometimes called ‘third party’ services. This tells us how many people are seeing the content and whether it’s useful.