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BETULA


195


Beschorneria


yuccoides MEXICAN LILY, AMOLE


Asparagaceae PERENNIAL


ZZONES 13, 16–17, 19–24


FP PARTIAL SHADE IN HOTTEST CLIMATES


NDLITTLE TO MODERATE WATER ATTRACTS HUMMINGBIRDS


b


Betula BIRCH


Betulaceae DECIDUOUS TREES


ZZONES VARY BY SPECIES FFULL SUN O REGULAR WATER


b ATTRACTS BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES


with silvery undersides. This is the most trouble-free birch. ‘Dura- Heat’ resists bronze birch borer and is more compact and heat- tolerant than the species. ‘Heri- tage’ is an excellent selection that has lighter-colored bark and resists bronze birch borer. ‘Summer Cascade’ is the fi rst weeping birch that resists birch borer. Grows to 15 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide. B. occidentalis (B. fonti-


nalis). WATER BIRCH. Zones A3; 1–7. Native to stream banks from Alaska to Oregon, east to Colorado. Shrubby; usually grows 12–15 ft. tall and wide. Smooth, shiny, cinnamon brown bark. Ovate leaves. B. papyrifera. CANOE


Betula utilis jacquemontii Beschorneria yuccoides


This Mexican native looks like a yucca, with rosettes of 2-ft.- long, 2-in.-wide gray-green leaves that are soft and spineless. Clumps increase slowly by off- sets to eventually reach 3–4 ft. wide. In early summer, a thick coral pink stalk rises to 3–7 ft., its many pink branches hung with bell-shaped, yellow-tinted green fl owers in yellow bracts. Thrives in well-drained garden soil or large container; suffers in cold, wet earth. ‘Flamingo Glow’ has yellow striped leaves, green fl owers.


Mexican lily is espe- cially striking when loosely clustered in a dry bed with a mulch of decomposed gran- ite. The fl owers may not bloom every year, but the plant is sculptural enough to carry the show. Remove spent leaves and fl ower stalks to keep it tidy.


Ornamental birches have been dominated by European white birch, beloved for its tall, white- barked trunk, weeping side branches, and fi ne-toothed leaves. But other birches have recently gained popularity for superior bark color, heat toler- ance, and resistance to birch borer. Most are shapely, with papery peeling bark and foliage that turns from green to yellow in fall; then delicate structure, handsome bark, and small cone like fruits carry them through winter. B. albo-sinensis. Zones


3–11, 14–24. Native to western China. Large tree (to 100 ft. tall, 30 ft. wide) grown chiefl y for pinkish brown to coppery bark that’s covered with a pow- dery gray bloom. Oval leaves. B. a. septentrionalis has fl aking, orange to orange-brown bark. B. nigra. RIVER BIRCH, RED BIRCH. Zones 1–24. Native to stream banks and lowlands in eastern North America. Very fast growth in early years; even- tually becomes a pyramidal tree 50–90 ft. tall, 40–60 ft. wide. Trunk often forks near ground, but the tree can be trained to a single stem. Young bark pink- ish, smooth, shiny; on older trees, bark fl akes and curls in cinnamon brown to blackish sheets. Diamond-shaped leaves are bright glossy green above


BIRCH, PAPER BIRCH. Zones A1–A3; 1–6. The most widely distributed North American birch, this grows from New Eng- land to Washington State. Simi- lar to B. pendula but larger (to 50–90 ft. tall and half as wide), with larger leaves (to 4 in. long) that are less densely borne; habit is more open, less weep- ing. More resistant to borer, leaf miners. Creamy white bark peels off in papery layers. ‘Renaissance Refl ection’ has a more upright, oval shape. B. pendula. EUROPEAN WHITE BIRCH. Zones A2, A3; 1–12, 14–24. Native from Europe to Asia Minor. Delicate, lacy appearance. Upright main branches, weeping side branches. This matures at 30–40 ft. tall and half as wide. Golden brown bark on twigs and young branches contrasts with mature white bark, which is marked with black clefts. Oldest bark (at base of tree) is blackish gray. Glossy, rich green leaves are diamond shaped, with a slender, tapered point. Often sold as weeping birch, although trees vary somewhat in habit, and young trees show little inclination to weep. Very susceptible to borer attack. Following are a few of the varie- ties offered. ‘Crimson Frost’. This hybrid


between B. pendula ‘Purpurea’ and an Asian birch has bur- gundy leaves whose color per- sists all season. Somewhat borer resistant. ‘Laciniata’ (‘Dalecarlica’). CUTLEAF WEEPING BIRCH. Graceful, open tree with strongly


weeping branches, deeply cut leaves. Sunburns in hot, dry weather. ‘Purple Rain’. This purple- leafed variety holds its color all summer. ‘Trost’s Dwarf’. To 3 ft. tall and wide. For bonsai, container, rock gardens. Needs excellent drainage. ‘Youngii’. YOUNG’S WEEPING BIRCH. Decorative, dome- shaped tree with slender branches that hang straight down. Stake to desired height; branches then hang from that point. To 15 ft. tall, 20 ft. wide. Sunburns in hot, dry weather. B. platyphylla japonica


(B. mandshurica japonica). JAPANESE WHITE BIRCH. Zones 1–11, 14–24. Native to Japan. Fast growth to 40–50 ft. tall, about half as wide; open habit. White bark. Glossy green, dia- mond-shaped leaves to 3 in. long. ‘Dakota Pinnacle’ is nar- rower than the species, very upright. B. populifolia ‘White-


spire’. Grows 30–40 ft. tall and only 15 ft. wide; borer- resistant. B. utilis jacquemontii


(B. jacquemontii). HIMALA- YAN BIRCH. Zones 3–11, 14–17. Native to northern India, this tall, narrow tree has the most brilliant white bark of any birch. Grows about 2 ft. a year to 40 ft., then more slowly to an eventual 60 ft. tall, 30 ft. wide. Some borer resistance.


CARE


All birches need regular mois- ture and nutrients. Don’t plant them over a patio or parking area, since they are susceptible to aphids that drip sticky honey- dew. Bronze birch borer can be a problem in the northern Rocky Mountain states; leaf miners in the Pacifi c Northwest. Prune established trees only to remove weak, damaged, or dead growth. To minimize sap bleed, prune in summer or early fall in mild- winter areas; where tempera- tures remain below freezing, wait until the end of January. To avoid providing entry points for pests and diseases, don’t make unnecessary or large cuts. If birch borer is present locally, don’t prune while it is active (check timing with your Cooperative Extension Offi ce).


B


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