I believe this will be the last of the trees I post in this ongoing series that I’ve already identified. I think it’ll be more fun for me and anyone else following along to go on the hunt for a tree’s name and species along with me than for me to simply post an encyclopedic entry of each tree. I didn’t take proper pics of the 2 or 3 others I’ve identified either, so they’re not worth posting yet anyway. I do intend to follow up identifications with more about the trees we’ve identified once we’ve [hopefully] solved each one’s mystery.
This somewhat ratty-looking specimen sits outside my front door in LA. After quite a bit of searching through birch varieties, I feel fairly confident that it is indeed a silver birch (Betula pendula), also called European Weeping Birch, European White Birch, or Weeping Birch, though I am happy to be proven wrong with adequate examples to the contrary. As the tree ages, it can develop large, dark, diamond-shaped fissures which appear as though the bark has split open.
These trees should be 15-25m tall, and mine certainly isn’t, but after a year or two of seeing it every day, it wasn’t until I started this blog and took some pictures of it that I noticed something quite obvious. The top half of the tree has been cut off, either by the owner (I’m renting), or a previous tenant. It’s 6” across at the cut.
One of the things distinguishing silver birch from a close relative, Downy Birch, (Betula pubescens) is the tiny warts that grow all along the younger limbs, as seen here:
This silver birch is loaded with catkins, each of which is comprised heavily of tiny seeds that look incredibly like little winged insects – a bit like citrus whiteflies. In my own experiments, these take to the wind like ash from a fire, floating on breezes almost too gentle to feel.
The simple leaves appear [to me] to be deltoid, and serrate, though you may decide for yourself.
Silver birch is one of the species of birches used in birch plywood, and trolling google for betula pendula plywood will bring up many links.
Next time in this series, I’ll be presenting a tree I don’t know at all. I have a feeling someone here will know what it is. Then I can research all about it, and add it to my knowledge-base. What fun!
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator