Silver birch, warty birch (Eng), abedul (Spa), bedoll (Cat), urkia (Baq), bidueiro (Glg), vidoeiro (Por).
“And the carpet is pure fern, / And the walls birch, / And the light comes from the ceiling / From the ceiling of blue sky”.
‘Odio la máscara y vicio’ (I hate masks and vices), José Martí.
Deciduous tree up to 30 m tall with an irregular, more or less rounded crown. The bark is white in young specimens, but cracks and darkens slightly with age. In his book Nuevo viaje a España. The route of the foramontanos, the writer and journalist Víctor de la Serna very aptly describes its bark: “The birch, its trunk like burnished bone...”. The branches hang down, at least at the tips, and the young twigs and buds are hairless, distinguishing this species from the other Iberian birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.). The leaves are alternate, serrated, more or less diamond-shaped (occasionally somewhat heart-shaped or triangular) and end in a fine point. The male and female flowers are arranged in long, hanging, flexible clusters known as catkins. After fertilization, aided by the wind, seeds form which have wings that are usually wider than the seed itself.
This birch has ecological requirements similar to those of Betula pubescens Ehrh. It grows next to streams, in peat bogs, and areas where water ponds. It forms pure woodlands and also appears within forests of pine, beech and other deciduous trees. It recovers very well after fires and can be found at altitudes of up to 2000 m.
It is distributed throughout almost all of Europe, western Asia and northern Morocco. On the Iberian Peninsula, it is more abundant in the northern half, from Galicia to the Pyrenees, often being mixed with the other Iberian birch, and it is found scattered throughout the centre and south. There are notable relict populations in the Cabañeros national park and the southernmost Sierra de Segura and Sierra Nevada ranges.