All About Weeping Birch Trees

By J.W. Carpenter , last updated June 1, 2011

Weeping Birch trees (Betula pendula), also known as European White Birch or Silver Birch, are small to medium size deciduous trees famed for their graceful drooping branches, which provide year-round ornamental interest. Several popular cultivars are available, which have been selected for a variety of height, foliage, and bark characteristics. Weeping Birches are rated to USDA Hardiness Zones 2 to 7. They can be grown in Zones 8 and 9, though they tend to be somewhat short-lived in those warmer climates.

Tall-growing Weeping Birch varieties feature an upright, pyramidal growth habit with distinctly drooping stem ends and twigs. Smaller varieties, such as Young’s Weeping Birch, typically feature a wide, gnarled umbrella-like growth habit, also with drooping stems. The gnarled look of the smaller varieties is quite attractive through the winter months. All Weeping Birches feature triangular or tear-drop leaves, which maintain a deep color through the summer and change to a nice light yellow in the autumn. Most trees produce dark green leaves through the summer, though several cultivars have been selected for other colors. Weeping Birches are typically planted as ornamental specimens or patio trees.

Weeping Birches are not particularly tolerant to drought or heat and they are susceptible to snow and ice damage. Additionally, many varieties are susceptible to several pests, especially the bronze birch borer. However, even given these limitations, the Weeping Birch is a special tree suited to virtually any landscaping design.

Many varieties of Weeping Birch are widely available, including the following. Young’s Weeping Birch is a small cultivar with extremely pendulous branches. As it lacks a central leader, its canopy has a distinctive umbrella or mushroom shape. Purple Splendor produces purple spring foliage, which hangs over the tree’s stark white bark making for a striking appearance. The foliage turns green by mid-summer. Golden Cloud maintains yellow leaves through the summer season in cooler climates.

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