Manchurian Birch

Manchurian Birch – Betula platyphylla var. mandshurica

color photo Manchurian Birch - Betula platyphylla var. mandshurica
A hardy alternative to silver birch, Manchurian birch offers extraordinary yellow fall color. A variety of Asian white birch native to Korea, Japan, and northern China. It is a deciduous, monoecious tree with white bark, growing as tall as 20 m.

Birch has long been a popular ornamental tree in North America. Several species are native Americans, and  many species have been introduced from Europe and Asia. They are graceful trees with the most popular being those with white bark.

The graceful elegance of the birch allows it to be used as a specimen or for naturalizing, and is best used in large areas. It transplants easily and is most effective when planted in groupings. A multi-trunk specimen is more handsome than single-trunk trees. It should not be planted in high-use areas such as driveways, walks and patios, as dead branches tend to be messy.

Manchurian Birch fall foliage

Birch is used as a food plant by the larvae of a large number of Lepidoptera. A number of beetle larvae  damage birch trees, and the bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius) makes it virtually impossible to grow many species of birch in the eastern United States.
Native Americans used birch bark for canoe construction; it was best gathered during a winter thaw or just when the sap started to flow in the spring. A tree of the desired size was felled and trimmed, and the bark was cut and stripped off in one piece. The wooden frame of the canoe was of northern white cedar. The birch bark, with the brown, inner layer of the bark turned to the outside, formed the skin. Seams were sewn with split roots of spruce or tamarack, then waterproofed with spruce resin. Our modern canvas and fiberglass canoes are patterned after this hand-made craft.

Asian White BirchAsian White Birch, from seed, is 10 years old [1]

1. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Plants Profile Betula platyphylla var. japonica
2. World Health Organization, Medicinal Plants in the Republic of Korea, Betula platyphylla  japonica
3. Eun Mi Ju et al., “Antioxidant and anticancer activity of extract from Betula platyphylla var. japonica”
4. Morton Arboretum Asian white birch acc. 187-2002-3 and 315-93-3 photos © Bruce Marlin

Family Betulaceae – Alder, Birch, Hornbeam
Trees Index | Pine Family | Beech, OakNut Trees | Birch Family | Magnolias

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