Weeping birch (Betula pendula)

Head of walk to Mathes and Nash Map

Also know as the European white birch and, as the lower photograph will justify, the warty birch, this common landscape tree is found throughout campus. As its name implies, its chief recognizable characteristic are an umbrella of sorrowfully drooping branches. The examples shown here are located near the entrances of Nash and Mathes Halls; presumably students returning from a hard day of study empathize with the sagging, weary aspect of these trees.

Drooping and weary it may appear, but this species, in common with birch trees in general, have wood with a very high caloric content, and thus are highly prized for firewood. A near relative, Betula lenta (sweet birch), has been used in the Appalachians to brew beer.

Betula pendula has many attractive qualities, which have made it the most frequently planted birch in North America. One authority warns, however, that in the Pacific Northwest it tends to provide a home for swarms of aphids, which exude quantities of a noxious fluid curiously described as "honey". Do not park your car beneath a weeping birch.

There are many cultivars of Betula pendula, offering different tree forms, leaf shapes, and colors. What appears to be Betula pendula 'Crispa', the cutleaf weeping birch, is growing near the southeast corner of Parks Hall.