Betula occidentalis

Common Name:
Water birch
Plant Type:
Deciduous tree
Betulaceae (The Birch Family)
Geographic Origin:
California Native?:
Plant Size:
10 feet plus
Landscape/Garden Uses:
Mixed plantings
Flowering Season:
Flower Color:
Not applicable
Sun or light shade
Most soils
Suggested Irrigation:
Regular to moderate watering
Estimated Hardiness:
Hardy to 0 degrees F. or less
Birches are not something one would expect to find in California. Yet many visitors to the high Sierra encounter this one, making beautiful borders along local streams and literally lighting up the landscape in fall. It is on the borderline between shrub and tree, crossing it freely and growing from 6 feet to nearly 30 feet high. It has beautiful, often contorted, cinnamon trunks and broad, shallowly toothed, deep green leaves, lighter beneath, which turn vivid yellow to scarlet in fall. It is well-behaved and easily controlled and shaped by pruning. What more could one ask of a small tree, except perhaps drought tolerance? Look elsewhere if you require this feature. Sun or light shade, most soils, regular watering. Hardy to below 0 degrees F.