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Himalayan birch is very susceptible to bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius). It was once used in landscapes, but its high susceptibility to the bronze birch borer has limited its use in more recent years. This species is not recommended for planting anywhere in the Midwest and usually requires removal due to its susceptibility to the borer.

Himalayan birch is native to the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, but was introduced to the United States as an ornamental tree. As an alternative, river birch (Betula nigra) is a good option. Before purchasing or planting river birch, be sure to check for any local or state guidelines, and ensure that this plant is suitable for its habitat by reviewing planting considerations from Arboretum experts or by finding it in the USDA Plants Database.

  • Family (English) Birch
  • Family (botanic) Betulaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 30-40 feet
  • Mature width 18-25 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Open, Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Wildlife Game birds, Insect pollinators, Small mammals, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Size and Method of Spreading

Himalayan birch is a medium-sized tree, growing 30 to 40 feet tall and 18 to 25 feet wide.

Native Geographic Location and Habitat

Himalayan birch is native to the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal.

Bark Color and Texture

The thin bark is variable on this species. It may be very white or sometimes more brown.

Leaf Description

Simple, alternate leaves are 2 to 3 inches long. The dark green leaves are oval with double serrated edges. Fall color is yellow.

Flower Description

The male flowers are held in cylindrical catkins. The female flowers are in a cylindrical, but much smaller, structure. The flowers are inconspicuous.

Fruit Description

The fruits are small, winged nutlets held in catkins.

Plant Care

Avoid pruning birches in spring as they are “bleeders” and will lose a great deal of sap.

Pests, Diseases, and Tolerances

Use of this tree is limited by its susceptibility to bronze birch borer. Japanese beetle is also a serious problem on this tree.


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