12. Himalayan Birch

Himalayan Birch

Betula utilis ssp. jacquemontii  Ashburner & McAll.

Native Range: North India, Central and West Nepal

  • Introduced into horticulture in 1880 after first being described in 1841, the peeling bark of these trees is not always dazzlingly white but can range from ochre-cream to light pinkish brown.
  • The sub-species name ‘jacquemontii’ is in memory of Victor Jacquemont (1801-1832). He was a French naturalist who was sent from the main French botanic garden, Jardin Des Plantes, to gather specimens inIndia. He died, aged 31, in Bombay(Mumbai) from cholera.
  • The species name ‘utilis’ refers to the Latin word meaning ‘useful’. The local people exploit the tree for many different uses:

the bark is used as a form of paper, often for sacred texts; the wood is used in making agricultural tools, household utensils and fencing and the branches are often the only fuel wood available.

  • Betula utilis ssp. jacquemontii grows with rhododendron and juniper in its native range and is threatened due to increased demand for firewood and overgrazing that is reducing regeneration.

Hamayun, M., 2003, Ethnobotanical Studies of some useful shrubs and trees in the district of Buner, NWFP, Pakistanavailable at http://www.ethnoleaflets.com/leaflets/buner.htm

Bean, W.J., (1989), Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles(8th edn) John Murray London

Missouri Botanical Garden website