Betula pubescens
Downy birch

© Emr/Wikimedia

Downy birch (Betula pubescens) is a fast-growing and relatively small deciduous tree. Although quite similar to silver birch (Betula pendula), downy birch is distinguished by its hairy leaves and shoots.

The species’ native range overlaps with that of the silver birch, but reaches further north and east.
Due to the tree’s small size and rather poor timber, the wood is mostly used for pulp and fuelwood. However, downy birch is of great ecological importance as it strengthens birds’ and insects’ biodiversity and contributes to watershed protection and soil stabilisation. The tree also forms a protective habitat for seedlings of more frost-sensitive species, such as the European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Norway spruce (Picea abies). With this ability, and with a canopy allowing a fair amount of light to pass through, the downy birch is suitable for reforestation and natural regeneration of forest habitats. In Croatia, the tree is used as an aromatic and medicinal plant.

Downy birch is cold-hardy and is one of the few deciduous trees found in, and even observed above, the alpine tree line in Nordic countries. Here, the species often appears as a dwarf tree or small bush. The downy birch is able to grow on poor soil, but is light-demanding and does not tolerate long periods of drought.

in situ genetic conservation unit
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Acknowledgements

The following experts have contributed to the development of the EUFORGEN distribution maps:

Fazia Krouchi (Algeria), Hasmik Ghalachyan (Armenia), Thomas Geburek (Austria), Berthold Heinze (Austria), Rudi Litschauer (Austria), Rudolf Litschauer (Austria), Michael Mengl (Austria), Ferdinand Müller (Austria), Franz Starlinger (Austria), Valida Ali-zade (Azerbaijan), Vahid Djalal Hajiyev (Azerbaijan), Karen Cox (Belgium), Bart De Cuyper (Belgium), Olivier Desteucq (Belgium), Patrick Mertens (Belgium), Jos Van Slycken (Belgium), An Vanden Broeck (Belgium), Kristine Vander Mijnsbrugge (Belgium), Dalibor Ballian (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Alexander H. Alexandrov (Bulgaria), Alexander Delkov (Bulgaria), Ivanova Denitsa Pandeva (Bulgaria), Peter Zhelev Stoyanov (Bulgaria), Joso Gracan (Croatia), Marilena Idzojtic (Croatia), Mladen Ivankovic (Croatia), Željka Ivanović (Croatia), Davorin Kajba (Croatia), Hrvoje Marjanovic (Croatia), Sanja Peric (Croatia), Andreas Christou (Cyprus), Xenophon Hadjikyriacou (Cyprus), Václav Buriánek (Czech Republic), Jan Chládek (Czech Republic), Josef Frýdl (Czech Republic), Petr Novotný (Czech Republic), Martin Slovacek (Czech Republic), Zdenek Špišek (Czech Republic), Karel Vancura (Czech Republic), Ulrik Bräuner (Denmark), Bjerne Ditlevsen (Denmark), Jon Kehlet Hansen (Denmark), Jan Svejgaard Jensen (Denmark), Kalev Jðgiste (Estonia), Tiit Maaten (Estonia), Raul Pihu (Estonia), Ülo Tamm (Estonia), Arvo Tullus (Estonia), Aivo Vares (Estonia), Teijo Nikkanen (Finland), Sanna Paanukoski (Finland), Mari Rusanen (Finland), Pekka Vakkari (Finland), Leena Yrjänä (Finland), Daniel Cambon (France), Eric Collin (France), Alexis Ducousso (France), Bruno Fady (France), François Lefèvre (France), Brigitte Musch (France), Sylvie Oddou-Muratorio (France), Luc E. Pâques (France), Julien Saudubray (France), Marc Villar (France), Vlatko Andonovski (FYR Macedonia), Dragi Pop-Stojanov (FYR Macedonia), Merab Machavariani (Georgia), Irina Tvauri (Georgia), Alexander Urushadze (Georgia), Bernd Degen (Germany), Jochen Kleinschmit (Germany), Armin König (Germany), Armin König (Germany), Volker Schneck (Germany), Richard Stephan (Germany), H. H. Kausch-Blecken Von Schmeling (Germany), Georg von Wühlisch (Germany), Iris Wagner (Germany), Heino Wolf (Germany), Paraskevi Alizoti (Greece), Filippos Aravanopoulos (Greece), Andreas Drouzas (Greece), Despina Paitaridou (Greece), Aristotelis C. Papageorgiou (Greece), Kostas Thanos (Greece), Sándor Bordács (Hungary), Csaba Mátyás (Hungary), László Nagy (Hungary), Thröstur Eysteinsson (Iceland), Adalsteinn Sigurgeirsson (Iceland), Halldór Sverrisson (Iceland), John Fennessy (Ireland), Ellen O'Connor (Ireland), Fulvio Ducci (Italy), Silvia Fineschi (Italy), Bartolomeo Schirone (Italy), Marco Cosimo Simeone (Italy), Giovanni Giuseppe Vendramin (Italy), Lorenzo Vietto (Italy), Janis Birgelis (Latvia), Virgilijus Baliuckas (Lithuania), Kestutis Cesnavicius (Lithuania), Darius Danusevicius (Lithuania), Valmantas Kundrotas (Lithuania), Alfas Pliûra (Lithuania), Darius Raudonius (Lithuania), Robert du Fays (Luxembourg), Myriam Heuertz (Luxembourg), Claude Parini (Luxembourg), Fred Trossen (Luxembourg), Frank Wolter (Luxembourg), Joseph Buhagiar (Malta), Eman Calleja (Malta), Ion Palancean (Moldova), Dragos Postolache (Moldova), Gheorghe Postolache (Moldova), Hassan Sbay (Morocco), Tor Myking (Norway), Tore Skrøppa (Norway), Anna Gugala (Poland), Jan Kowalczyk (Poland), Czeslaw Koziol (Poland), Jan Matras (Poland), Zbigniew Sobierajski (Poland), Maria Helena Almeida (Portugal), Filipe Costa e Silva (Portugal), Luís Reis (Portugal), Maria Carolina Varela (Portugal), Ioan Blada (Romania), Alexandru-Lucian Curtu (Romania), Lucian Dinca (Romania), Georgeta Mihai (Romania), Mihai Olaru (Romania), Gheorghe Parnuta (Romania), Natalia Demidova (Russian Federation), Mikhail V. Pridnya (Russian Federation), Andrey Prokazin (Russian Federation), Srdjan Bojovic (Serbia) , Vasilije Isajev (Serbia), Saša Orlovic (Serbia), Rudolf Bruchánik (Slovakia), Roman Longauer (Slovakia), Ladislav Paule (Slovakia), Gregor Bozič (Slovenia), Robert Brus (Slovenia), Katarina Celič (Slovenia), Hojka Kraigher (Slovenia), Andrej Verlič (Slovenia), Marjana Westergren (Slovenia), Ricardo Alía (Spain), Josefa Fernández-López (Spain), Luis Gil Sanchez (Spain), Pablo Gonzalez Goicoechea (Spain), Santiago C. González-Martínez (Spain), Sonia Martin Albertos (Spain), Eduardo Notivol Paino (Spain), María Arantxa Prada (Spain), Alvaro Soto de Viana (Spain), Lennart Ackzell (Sweden), Jonas Bergquist (Sweden), Sanna Black-Samuelsson (Sweden), Jonas Cedergren (Sweden), Gösta Eriksson (Sweden), Markus Bolliger (Switzerland), Felix Gugerli (Switzerland), Rolf Holderegger (Switzerland), Peter Rotach (Switzerland), Marcus Ulber (Switzerland), Sven M.G. de Vries (The Netherlands), Khouja Mohamed Larbi (Tunisia), Murat Alan (Turkey), Gaye Kandemir (Turkey), Gursel Karagöz (Turkey), Zeki Kaya (Turkey), Hasan Özer (Turkey), Hacer Semerci (Turkey), Ferit Toplu (Turkey), Mykola M. Vedmid (Ukraine), Roman T. Volosyanchuk (Ukraine), Stuart A'Hara (United Kingdom), Joan Cottrell (United Kingdom), Colin Edwards (United Kingdom), Michael Frankis (United Kingdom), Jason Hubert (United Kingdom), Karen Russell (United Kingdom), C.J.A. Samuel (United Kingdom).

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