Weeping Birch

Betula Pendula `youngii

This tree is a familiar sight in the Park, in the area where the Zoo borders the herb garden. Here this small tree seems to have grown very little in recent years. There are a number of weeping forms, but this tree does seem to show the characteristics of the most common `youngii’ variety. It originated in Milford, Surrey, at the turn of the century.

A group of weeping branches is usually grafted on to a 2 meter parent tree stem, producing this familiar mop-headed form. The upper branches are not unlike curtain rails holding the hanging branches of leaves which flow down to the ground. Besides the attractive white bark, the diamond-shaped leaves turn a golden yellow in the autumn.

The druids revered the parent tree, and Coleridge called it `the lady of the woods’ on account of the delicacy of its branching. This form has a more funereal appearance, but the branching is particularly elegant. Weeping forms are becoming more common in London’s parks. The largest specimen can be seen in Golders Hill Park and stands at about 30 ft. tall.