White Barked Birch Trees

white birch trees

Have you ever admired a group of white barked birch trees in the North Woods?  Or perhaps you’ve noticed a graceful clump of white birch serving as a focal point in a neighbor’s landscaping.

Wherever they are found in our natural woodlands or urban landscapes, white barked birches of many varieties seem to catch our attention.  When viewed against a back drop of evergreen trees and grey barked maples, oaks and other trees, the stark contrast of snow white trunks and branches weaves a rich tapestry throughout the area.

White barked birches are truly trees for all seasons.  In spring the birches paint the landscape with the lazy soft green of their tender new leaves and swaying catkins making seed for the next generation birch grove.  In summer the canopy deepens to a darker green that contrasts nicely with white stems, and for some varieties, a peeling bark provides additional interest.

When autumn brings the time of change to the woods, white birches add soft yellows and rich gold to the riot of fall colors.  As winter snows deepen, clumps and groves of white birch become more visually prominent as other vegetation recedes into a grey/green backdrop, once again accentuating the contrast of white trunks.

Sadly, the white barked birches have a weakness that might deter some people from using them in their home landscapes.  Birch borers can do significant damage to white birches when they tunnel around just under the surface of the bark.  If left unchecked, the birch borers can cause branches to die, or even a whole tree.

Happily, there is a very easy way to prevent birch borers that allows even the most cautious homeowner to plant and enjoy white barked birch in the landscape.  It takes only a few minutes and a few dollars per tree to give a systemic insecticide treatment that will stop birch borers in their tracks, and prevent them from infesting healthy trees.  It’s the same product that can prevent and/or eliminate emerald ash borers.

The active ingredient in this once a year treatment is called Imidacloprid.  Simply pour a few ounces of Imidacloprid solution into a couple of 5 gallon pails, fill with water and pour on the ground around the base of the tree.  It takes just a few minutes once a year, and the chemical application is targeted to a very small area, and a limited number of plants.  No injecting or spraying is required.  It’s a very quick, easy and inexpensive bit of maintenance that allows you to enjoy the beauty and grace of white barked birches.

Birch varieties that develop white trunks and will benefit from this treatment are native paper birch, Whitespire Birch, Royal Frost Birch, Renaissance Oasis Birch, Renaissance Reflections Birch and Dakota Pinnacle Birch.

If you have these, or other white barked birches, it may be wise to apply this treatment in a few minutes, once a year.  It will allow your prized white barked birch to remain a centerpiece of your landscapes for decades to come.

I am also sharing this post with the Northfield News.

Update – March, 2014: See an updated list (PDF) of all our shade trees here.  And see all of our blog posts tagged with Dakota Pinnacle Birch.