Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah - July

Common name Western Himalayan birch
Scientific name Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (Spach) H.J.P. Winkl.
Family  Betulaceae

Genus: Betula - based on the Roman name for birch, relating to the pitch distilled from the bark.

Species: utilis - from the Latin for useful, beneficial.

Variety: jacquemontii - named for Victor Jacquemont (1801-1832), a French botanist and geologist who lived in India from 1828, from where he visited the Himalaya.

Distribution Betula utilis occurs across the Himalaya from Afghanistan to southern China. The variety jacquemontii is found west of Nepal and its bark colour ranges from light brown and pink to white.
Native habitat Depending more on snowmelt than monsoon rain for water these trees often form snow-battered forests up to 4500 metres above sea level.
Description The featured tree, planted in 1989, could eventually reach 20 metres in height. It is a cultivar, probably ‘Silver Shadow’, and is grown for its particularly white bark.


At the up-hill edge of the road below the Brunet Pavilion, in bed CS200a.

Further information

The cultivar ‘Silver Shadow’ has received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. It is not easy to propagate and may take a few years to develop the fabulous white bark.

Fresh green leaves unfurl in spring along with catkins. Golden-yellow leaves fall in autumn and the trunk stays white year round.

Betula utilis bark has been used as paper for centuries. The history of name changes and the bringing of the white-barked form into cultivation is an interesting read with tantalising gaps in its history.

Available from some cool-climate plant nurseries.