Birch Tree Lifespan: How Long Do Birch Trees Live

Forest Of Paper Birch Trees
birch trees
(Image credit: blew_i)

Birch trees are lovely, graceful trees with pale bark and bright, heart-shaped leaves. They are in the genera Betula, which is the Latin word for “to shine,” and if you have a birch tree in your yard, you may agree that the tree seems to have a glow. How long do birch trees live? The birch tree lifespan depends upon where the tree is growing. Read on for more information about factors that affect the life of a birch tree.

Birch Tree Lifespan

How old do birch trees get? The answer to this question depends in part on the species of the tree. It also depends on its growing conditions. Paper birch trees (Betula papyrafera), also known as white birch or silver birch, are popular garden trees. The species is native to this continent. The lifespan of a paper birch in the wild is between 80 and 140 years. Cultivated paper birches have a much shorter life if they are grown in the home landscape. Here they may only live between 30 and 40 years. Some species of birch can live hundreds of years under optimal conditions. For example, the yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) can live for up to 300 years, although its average lifespan is 150 years in the wild. The sweet birch (Betula lenta) can live to be 250 years. Birch tree lifespans decrease when the trees are planted in a backyard for a variety of reasons. First, cultivated birch trees often get inadequate irrigation, insufficient sun, and, given those stress factors, they suffer from diseases and pest damage. This can reduce the lifespan of a birch in your backyard to less than 20 years.

Extending the Lifespan of a Birch

Once you know how different the lifespan is for cultivated birch trees, you may feel inspired to give yours excellent cultural care. If you want the lifespan of a birch in your backyard to be long and happy, give the tree the same conditions it would have in the wild. In a forest, birches grow in cool, moist soils. You need to plant your birch trees where the soil will be shaded, cool, and moist. On the other hand, birch trees require sunshine on their leaves to grow well. For a maximum birch tree lifespan, find a site where the tree’s roots are in cool soil but its leaves are in the sun for a good part of the day.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.