Betula jacquemontii, a fabulous white-bark birch

Betula utilis jacquemontii, the himalayan birch

In the birch family, Betula utilis jacquemontii catches the eye thanks to its superb silver-white trunk.

Betula utilis jacquemontii key facts

Botanical nameBetula utilis jacquemontii
FamilyBetulaceae
Type – tree
Foliage – deciduous

Height – 32 to 36 feet (10 to 12 meters)
Width – 20 to 25 feet (7 to 8 m)
Exposure – Sun to part sun
Soil – any type but chalky, well drained

Hardiness – hardy
Growth – fast when not in chalk
Flowering – spring

Get to know Betula utilis jacquemontii

The first thing you’ll notice about Betula utilis jacquemontii is its trunk. It’s a pristine white color! It brings to mind images of the Eternal Snows atop the peaks of the Himalayas, which explains why in some parts it’s known as the Himalaya birch.

Also of interest is the foliage: it matures into a darker green hue than that of other birches. In fall, the ovate leaves slowly take on a magnificent yellow color.

As for the flowering, jacquemontii is covered in many catkins at the beginning of spring. Male ones are yellow-brown, and up to 5 inches long (12 cm). Female ones are shaped like green panicles forming near-perfect cylinders. Fruits, when they form, are about 2 inches long (5 cm). These are short cone-shaped tubes. The scales open up one after the other to release little, winged seeds.

Did you know ? Betula utilis earned that name because it has many uses: from paper pulp to umbrellas, shingles on rooftops… and more!

Planting Himalayan birch

Betula utilis jacquemontii is a vigorous birch variety that will adapt to any situation. Of course, it’ll fare better in some spots and less well in others. If you want to spur quick growth, favor fertile, non-chalky soil. The soil must be moist, without, however, retaining water. It’s thus important to ensure proper drainage. Lastly, regarding exposure: select for it a sun-filled, luminous setting: the flashy white trunk will be all the more admirable!

When to plant Betula utilis jacquemontii ?

It’s possible to plant jacquemontii in spring. But to be fair, planting in fall is better both to ensure it settles in well, and to avoid having to water during that first summer.

How to plant it?

The planting itself will differ a bit depending on how your tree was sold to you:

  • If it’s in a container, you’ve got to tease it out of the pot to free the root clump and open up the root system a bit: it’ll help the tree settle in better.
  • If the tree was delivered bare-rooted, you’ll do good to cover the roots in root dip before transferring your Betula utilis jacquemontii.

Two betula utilis jacquemontii leavesApart from these two cases, planting a Betula utilis jacquemontii is pretty straightforward:

  • Dig a planting trench that’s wide and deep.
  • Amend the soil with soil mix or compost and break the bottom of the hole up.
  • Settle your tree in the hole, together with a stake, but without damaging any roots.
  • Backfill the hole, pressing the soil down well. At the surface, prepare a bowl-shaped ridge all around to direct water towards the trunk.
  • Connect the stake and the trunk with a staking belt, forming a loose “figure-8” shape.
  • Water abundantly

The finishing touch to make your planting perfect is to apply a thick layer of mulch that will retain moisture in the soil.

Caring for Betula utilis jacquemontii

Monitor the watering for the first few years of growth of the tree: especially during heat waves. Pruning won’t be necessary: let your jacquemontii surprise you as each of its branches reaches for the sky. If need be, for instance if ever a branch gets too large or in the way of something else, it’s possible to proceed to a light pruning.

Propagation:

There are two ways to get new specimens from your existing Betula utilis jacquemontii

  • sowing seeds in spring;
  • and preparing cuttings from semi-hardened wood in summer.

Diseases and pests:

We’ve said it was a vigorous tree, but Betula jacquemontii is sadly vulnerable to powdery mildew and to rust. As for predator insects, you’ll have to deal with aphids, thrips and sawflies may weaken the tree if there are too many of them.

Landscaping uses and companion plants

Jacquemontii birch tree in landscapingBetula utilis jacquemontii will excel in many situations: as a standalone, in clusters, or to form an alignment. In every case, your goal should be to highlight its main asset: the trunk.

To push the point and highlight the beautiful white trunk (especially in winter), set it up in front of a screen of trees or shrubs with beautiful colored bark such as red and yellow dogwood (Cornus alba, C. sanguinea, C. sericea) or trees with a different style such as white willow (which has yellow bark): Salix alba.


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Large white tree by Wendy Cutler under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Leaves, longer than usual by Teresa Grau Ros under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Near a lake by Leonora Enking under © CC BY-SA 2.0