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Trosts Dwarf cutleaf birch

By Nancy Norris | July 21, 2022

Grow a beautiful tree with finely dissected, deciduous leaves

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garden railway scene with train and two trees

Trosts Dwarf cutleaf birch

Common name: Trost’s Dwarf cutleaf birch, Dwarf European birch

Latin name: Betula pendula ‘Trost’s Dwarf’, synonym: Betula platyphylla

Plant type: Shrubs & small trees

Plant size: 3-4′ high by 3′ wide before pruning

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9 (10, given moisture)

Cultural needs: Sun; moist, drained, slightly acidic

garden railway scene with train and two trees
The two specimens in this photo have been opened up in the center to show their age. Photo by Nancy Norris

One day a horticulturist noticed a finely divided bunch of leaves, like a broom, growing on part of a European birch tree. He propagated cuttings, now sold as Betula pendula ‘Trost’s Dwarf’ (as well as many common names). A year ago this rare, dwarf, cutleaf birch was unavailable online. Today several online sources sell it, listing different USDA Hardiness Zones, from Zones 2-7 to Zones 4-9. The overall slow growth habit of this shrubby tree is like that of a Japanese maple, with finely dissected, deciduous leaves.

The tree can be opened up in the center to show age, as the two in the photo. It’s easy to train this cutleaf birch to model a weeping willow and it looks especially at home near water, as both willows and birches like moist soil. Prune in the summer to prevent losing sap in the spring. The farther specimen in the photo grows in front of dark green, creeping fig vines to show off its pale green, lacy leaves, which turn golden-yellow in autumn. It takes most of a decade for the tan bark to turn into the classic white birch. Source: www.forestfarm.com

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