Betula pendula is more commonly known as the European white birch. It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 100 feet tall, and is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 6. In the summer its green leaves are 1 to 3 inches long. By autumn the leaves turn yellow and do not fall until later in the season. The Betula pendula prefers cooler temperatures, moist soil, and is great for landscape use near decks and patios. It is also susceptible to some types of problems.
The European white birch is a favorite of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, which is a type of woodpecker. The damage from the sapsucker can sometimes be confused with damage caused by canker diseases. The sapsucker pecks holes for feeding in patterns on the trunk of the tree. The sapsucker can feed on a tree year after year until eventually killing it. Managing this problem is difficult as the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is protected by state and federal laws. It is recommended to use blow-up snakes or wooden owls in the tree during the migration of the Sapsucker. Trunks and branches can also be covered with a wrap to prevent the Sapsucker from pecking holes. The wrap should not be left on during spring and summer.
An environmental problem for the European white birch is Chlorosis. It can be caused by poorly draining soil, damaged roots, lack of nutrients in the soil, or soil pH levels that are too high. The most common cause is the lack of iron, manganese or zinc. An iron deficiency is different than the other two because it starts on the younger leaves and works its way to the older ones. Zinc and manganese are just the opposite. If the pH of the soil has been too high for a long period of time than the chlorosis is more severe. A milder case starts with the lightening of the veins between the tissues. As the color becomes more yellow, the condition becomes more severe. Certain areas become infected such as the leaves, flowers or fruits. Treatment for chlorosis depends upon the cause. If it is due to poor soil conditions, than the soil can be amended by tilling, aerating or mulching. Soluble nutrients can also be added to replenish the missing minerals. One application will only help the already affected areas so several applications per growing season are recommended. These nutrients can also be applied directly into the trunk by drilling holes in the trunk. This type of application can take up to 30 days to work, however, it may last a couple of years
The gypsy moth likes to feed on many different hosts. Their larvae feed on the leaves. Deciduous trees can tolerate the feeding longer than other species before starting to weaken enough to eventually die. If the infestation is not severe, the larvae usually eat at night. When the infestation becomes worse, they feed continuously. The adults hatch in July and will lay another round of eggs to continue the cycle. To control the gypsy moth it is recommended to spray the caterpillars with Bacillus thuringiensis "Kurstaki', which is organic. Eggs can be killed with organic oil treatments. Contact a local garden center or university extension office for more information on gypsy moth control in your area.