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Betula Papyrifera also known as Paper Birch or Canoe Birch, is an elegant variety of Birch tree appreciated for its paper-thin peeling bark. Birches are among the most elegant of trees often grown for their unusual stem colour and yellow leaves in autumn. The Papyrifera variety is a striking large tree with white paper-thin peeling bark. These Betula Papyrifera specimen trees are sold as mature trees so they will need space.
The most distinct feature of this ornamental deciduous tree is its attractive bark. The name Canoe Birch hints at the quality of the distinctive bark, as the North American Indians used the water-proof bark to clad their canoes, and the epithet remained. The top layer of the bark is white and thin, and peels in papery rolls to reveal a pale pink-orange inner layer of bark underneath. As Betula Papyrifera matures, the white bark will develop black markings which add to the appeal. The deciduous foliage is medium green, with ovate, small leaves, and looks stunning in the fall, when it turns to shades of bright yellow. In the spring, pale yellow catkins appear on the tree, followed by brown, cone-like fruit.
Adaptable and undemanding, Betula Papyrifera is easy to grow and to care for. It will grow successfully in both full sun and partial shade, and thrive in any soil, including sand, clay, chalk and rocky terrain. This cultivar will appreciate consistent moisture, so make sure to provide proper drainage and water regularly. Rarely affected by any serious diseases or pests.
Naturally occurring in the cold climate of North America, Paper Birch is a remarkably tough and robust cultivar. It will survive even in the severest of European climates with extremely low temperatures, and it is fully hardy in the United Kingdom. Frost hardy and deer tolerant, this variety dislikes heat and humidity.
With a multi-stemmed, branched habit, Paper Birch can grow to be up to 30 metres high, with a spread over 10 metres. Canoe Birch requires no pruning to stay in good shape. Routinely remove damaged or dead growth to ensure the plant stays healthy.
Highly-decorative, with multiple seasons of interest, Betula Papyrifera is often grown as a focus of interest in the garden. The peeling bark will provide decorative value throughout the year, complemented by foliage and flowers throughout the spring and summer. This variety is better suited for large gardens and open spaces, as it needs a lot of space to fully develop.