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Himalayan Birch

Himalayan Birche

Planted throughout the Gardens

Himalayan birch (Betula utilis) is a common tree throughout the Himalayans from Afghanistan to China. It has different coloured bark depending on where is comes from. The white barked Himalayan birches (Betula utilis subspecies jacquemontii) are native to the western Himalayans. Chocolate coloured Himalayan birchs (Betula utilis subspecies utilis) are native to the central Himalayans and those with copper coloured bark (Betula utilis subsp. albosinensis) are mainly found in northern china.

Aside from being beautiful trees in our gardens, the bark of Himalayan birches is used for writing on. The earliest dated documents (oldest known Buddhist manuscripts - Gandhāran Buddhist texts) are from Afghanistan written in 1st century CE. Indeed birch bark was commonly used for writing across Europe, Russia and Asia until the widespread introduction of paper in 15 Century CE.  Today, scared manuscripts are still written on birch bark in India.

Commonly Himalayan birches are seen in gardens as single stemmed trees which means they have been grafted, grown from cuttings or pruned when young.  To achieve a multi stemmed tree, they must be seed grown so they naturally have more than one stem.

Ness has a collection of around 300 types of Birch growing through the garden, including 10 of the world's rarest species. This globally important collection of these beautiful trees is due to the research work of Dr. Hugh McCallister.

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