Betula pendula MAGICAL GLOBE

Overall plant, Fall
Common Name: silver birch 
Type: Tree
Family: Betulaceae
Zone: 3 to 6
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: High
Flower: Insignificant
Other: Winter Interest


In St. Louis, European white birch is best grown in medium to wet, well-drained sandy or rocky loams in full sun to part shade. Although it prefers full sun in its native habitat, in St. Louis, it is best sited in a northern or eastern exposure that receives some afternoon shade. It needs consistently moist soils. Consider using soaker hoses and bark mulches to keep the root zones cool and moist. Tolerates some dry soils, but is best in consistently moist ones. It needs little pruning, but if necessary, prune during the dormant season. Avoid pruning in spring when the sap is running. Performs best in cool northern climates where summer temperatures rarely exceed 75°F and where root zones are generally covered with snow throughout the winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Betula pendula, commonly called European white birch or white birch, is native to Europe and Asia Minor where it typically occurs in wood margins, heaths, hills and slopes. It has been widely planted in Canada and the northern U.S. as an ornamental. As is the case with paper birch (B. papyrifera), this tree is noted for its white bark, which exfoliates in papery strips. It is also noted for its drooping or pendulous branches. Mature trees become furrowed and blackish-gray near the bottom of the trunk. It is a small to medium sized tree that typically grows to 30-40’ (less frequently to 60’) tall with a pyramidal to oval rounded crown. Ovate, glabrous, toothed, glossy green leaves (to 2.5” long) have long tapered tips. Greenish-yellow fall color is usually undistinguished. Tiny monoecious flowers appear in early spring in separate catkins on the same tree: yellowish-brown male flowers in drooping catkins (to 2.5” long) and greenish female flowers in smaller, upright catkins (to 1 1/4” long). Female flowers are followed by drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds that typically mature in late summer.

Genus name is the Latin name for birch.

Specific epithet means "hanging" in reference to the growth habit of the branches.

MAGICAL GLOBE is a dwarf selection of European white birch that is typically grafted onto a Himalayan birch (Betula utilis) trunk to create a standard form. Mature plants retain their rounded, globe-shaped habit and typically reach around 5' wide. Height is determined by the size of the trunk upon which the canopy is grafted, but are typically between 3-5' tall.


This species of birch grows poorly and is generally short-lived in the St. Louis climate. It thrives in cool northern summers, but does poorly in the heat and humidity of St. Louis. Weakened birches become very vulnerable to the bronze birch borer which, in the St. Louis area, typically infects and kills trees that are stressed by summer heat and humidity. Although European white birches have some susceptibility to aphids, leaf miner, birch skeletonizer and dieback, these problems are somewhat minor in comparison to the birch borer.


May not perform well in climates with hot, humid summers. River birch (see Betula nigra) is a better selection for St. Louis. In cool northern climates, European white birch is an excellent small landscape tree that displays a graceful drooping form and mixes well with evergreens.