Plant of the Week: Whitespire Gray Birch

The flowers of Whitespire gray birch come in the form of “catkins,” long cylindrical compound flowers that bloom in the spring.

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees — each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

Whitespire gray birch trees, Betula populifolia ‘Whitespire,’ are easily identifiable by their characteristic gray-white bark and dark triangular patches where branches meet the trunk. These trees offer something to enjoy in every season: vibrant foliage in autumn and beautiful exposed bark in winter. This time of year, the leafless branches hang heavy with “catkins,” or cylindrical clusters of flowers. Catkins come in “male” and “female” varieties, and warm weather breezes help pollinate the flowers, giving way to wind-borne seeds later in the season. In the coming months the trees will fill in with glossy green foliage.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT
On the High Line between Gansevoort and West 17th Streets, West 21st and West 22nd Streets, and West 28th and West 30th Streets

Download our April Bloom Guide.

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