Plant of the Week: Whitespire Gray Birch

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Author: 
Erika Harvey
On hot summer days, visitors are thankful for the shade provided by the park's trees, like the Whitespire gray birch. Photo by Friends of the High Line
 

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.

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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: catikins, or clusters of flowers, in spring; vibrant foliage in autumn; and beautiful exposed bark in winter.

In the summer months, the branches of Whitespire birch trees fill with lush green leaves creating shade for understory plants and High Line visitors alike. The Gansevoort Woodland, between Little West 12th and West 13th Streets, and the Chelsea Thicket, between West 21st and West 22nd Streets, are two of the best places to seek respite from the city heat and imagine yourself in a Northeastern woodland.

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 July Bloom Guide.