Betula platyphylla

Asian White Birch




  • native to Japan
  • zone 1

Habit and Form

  • large, deciduous tree
  • 40' to 50' tall
  • open habit
  • fast growth rate
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • simple, deciduous leaves
  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • up to 3" long
  • dark green leaf color
  • serrated leaf margin

Autumn Foliage

  • yellow fall color


  • blooms in April
  • not ornamentally important
  • monoecious


  • small nutlets held in cylindrical catkins
  • not ornamentally important


  • young twigs quite warty and brown in color
  • larger branches display showy, bright white bark
  • bark does not exfoliate


  • easy to grow
  • does not appreciate excessive summer heat
  • soil adaptable
  • needs a moist soil for good growth
  • avoid pruning from February through July to prevent bleeding
  • best in full sun

Landscape Use

  • casts light shade, good lawn tree
  • specimen
  • for showy bark
  • near a deck or patio
  • lawn tree
  • campus tree


  • bronze birch borer is a serious problem
  • can suffer ice and snow damage
  • not heat or drought tolerant

ID Features

  • wary twigs
  • white bark on main trunk
  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • serrated leaves up to 3" long
  • yellow fall color
  • non-exfoliating bark


  • by cuttings
  • cultivars grafted on seedlings


'Fargo' (Dakota Pinnacle®) - A very hardy selection out of North Dakota with a narrow, upright habit to 30' tall and 10' wide. The bark is white, and the plant has been marketed as heat/drought tolerant and borer resistant.

'Whitespire' - A form originating out of Wisconsin with white, non-peeling bark, good glossy green foliage and oval habit to 40' tall. While the plant has been marketed as being resistant to heat/drought and birch borer, testing indicates that the plant may not fare well in extreme heat. The bark also may not retain its white sheen with age.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.