Betula insignis

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Rarely seen in the UK, Betula insignis has the best display of Spring catkins of any birch. In April, the long showy yellow-green catkins hang in large numbers from the tips of branches, reaching up to 16cm in length.

The bark is generally dark brown, with long pale horizontal lenticels. The large leaves are attractive, as are the large female fruits that adorn the branches throughout the winter. Twigs and bark have a strong smell of wintergreen when cut. Will grow best in heavy clay soils, but can tolerate drier conditions.

Betula insignis is a relatively recent introduction from the temperate cloud forests of Guizhou province, China.

Eventual height: 25m in the wild.