Himalayan Birch

Himalayan Birch

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Scientific Name:
Betula utilis
Edinburgh, E21 Map
Adopted, available Mar 2022

This beautiful tree is a native of the Himalayas. Deforestation, due to overuse for purposes such as firewood, has caused loss of habitat for many native groves. Selected cultivars with differing bark colours are widely cultivated in Western gardens.

In the Himalayas, Betula utilis is native to regions from northern Pakistan to western China, growing at elevations up to 4,500m. At the western end of its distribution this species produces beautiful white bark, as in the popular garden variety ‘jacquemontii’, but is a rich copper-red elsewhere. The specific epithet, utilis, refers to the many purposes to which different parts of the tree have been put, including building and for firewood. Since ancient times its bark has also been used like paper for writing. In the wild this species can form a tree of 20 to 25m tall, but in cultivation it is commonly 15 to 20m.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)