Himalayan birch (Betula utilis 'Jacquemontii')

Library plaza Map

Sixteen examples of this snow-white variety of the common Himalayan birch were planted (1997) on both sides of the courtyard between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library. Others are scattered throughout campus. Himalayan birch was introduced to England in 1849 by the famous botanist Sir Joseph Hooker, a friend and stalwart ally of Charles Darwin. The variety 'Jacquemontii' honors Victor Jacquemont, the first botanist to explore Kashmir, who died there in 1832 at the age of 31.

Given enough time, these trees will begin to shade the upper windows of the library; a tree 75 ft. high is reported from Seattle.

The peeling bark of the Jacquemontii birch suggests the North American paper (or canoe) birch, which however belongs to another species (Betula papyrifera). Jacquemonti birch was introduced to North America in 1924, but since has taken the Pacific Northwest by storm. One authority predicts it is the garden birch of the future. This is partly because it is slightly more resistant to birch-destroying diseases. The ability of its elegant, peeling, brilliantly white bark to enliven a drab PNW winter landscape also is a plus.