Botanical Name: Betula occidentalis
Common Name: Western Water Birch  
Plant photo of: Betula occidentalis
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Water Saving Tip:

Change spray sprinklers to low-flow bubbler or drip systems. Shrubs and trees are ideal candidates for this type of irrigation because the water is applied directly to the root zones.

  • Anatomy

  • Culture

  • Design

Plant Type

Tree, Shrub


Height Range

12-25', 25-40'


Flower Color



Flower Season



Leaf Color

Green, Dark Green


Bark Color

Brown, Red


Fruit Color



Fruit Season

Summer, Fall, Persistent


Full, Half



High, Extra in Summer


Growth Rate

Moderate, Slow


Soil Type

Sandy, Clay, Loam, Rocky


Soil Condition

Average, Rich, Well-drained, Moist


Soil pH

Neutral, Basic


Adverse Factors


Design Styles

Meadow, Ranch, Native Garden, Woodland


Accenting Features

Fall Color, Multi-trunk Tree, Silhouette


Seasonal Interest

Winter, Summer, Fall


Location Uses

Background, Shrub Border, Lawn, Patio, Walls / Fences


Special Uses

Erosion Control, Hedge, Screen, Shade Tree


Attracts Wildlife


Information by: Stephanie Duer
  • Description

  • Notes

Western Water Birch is a small tree or shrub, growing 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide. It tends to grow as a clump with upright, ascending branches. Leaves are oval, sharply pointed, prominently veined, and dark green. Fall color is yellow to orange. Spring catkins and small cone-like fruits mature in the fall and persist into winter, providing interest and forage for birds. Bark is smooth, reddish brown, with thin, cream lenticels (rather like a cherry tree). A Utah native.
Grow in sun to part shade, in well drained to wet soils. Clay-loam to rocky-loam soils. Will tolerate alkaline soils to 7.0 pH. Though having a higher water need than many of the trees in this database, Western Water birch is a lovely tree, well suited to our riparian corridor areas, though it ought to manage well is situated next to a lawn where it can benefit from the extra moisture. Not suited to very hot, dry sites. More borer-resistant than other birches. A Utah native, it is found in riparian areas.