Keele University Arboretum
Explore this Section
Downy Birch Betula pubescens
Origin: This is a native tree that is common on badly-drained heaths and the damper, peaty soils of the north and west. It is very similar to the Silver Birch and the two do hybridise.
Tree: in shape, it tends to be a smaller, rounder tree with more upright branches; never pendulous like Silver Birch. The bark red-brown at first, becoming smooth greyish-white; never with the black diamonds of Silver Birch at the base.
The leaves are more rounded in shape than Silver Birch and the base of the leaf is more or less rounded or heart-shaped; the edges are single-toothed or irregularly double-toothed (but the tips do not curve towards the tip of the leaf as they do in Silver Birch). Unlike Silver Birch, the veins on the underside of the leaf and the young shoots are hairy and there are no warts (small raised pimples) on the twigs. It also seems to hold on to its leaves longer.
Fruits: To look at, the fruits of the two species are similar, being a long catkin which breaks up in the autumn to release masses of wind-blown seed. However, the individual scales of the catkin are distinctive.
At Keele : scattered around campus.