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Betula medwediewii Reg.

Modern name

Betula medwediewii Regel

A large, spreading shrub growing in cultivation to about 15 ft in height and almost twice as much across; branchlets slightly hairy when young, with a few long lenticels. Winter buds very large and distinct, bright glossy green, narrowly ovoid and pointed, with ciliate scales; on vigorous shoots the buds are 12 in. long. Leaves ovate to roundish, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 3 in. wide; rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, pointed, irregularly toothed; dark green above, and glabrous or with a few hairs only on the midrib and the eight to eleven pairs of sunken veins, which are also slightly hairy beneath; stalk 14 to 12 in. long, hairy. Fruit-catkins stalked, erect, 1 to 112 in. long; scales 13 in. long, with some hairs on the margins, the middle lobe twice as long as the side ones. Seeds with narrow wings. Bot. Mag., t. 9569.

Native of the Caucasus at sub-alpine elevations; introduced to Kew from Tiflis in 1897 and put into commerce by Späth of Berlin in 1906. It makes a handsome bush with alder-like leaves and is very striking in winter with its glossy, pale brown stems and large buds. The leaves usually die off a light yellow. The largest specimen recorded grows at Mount Usher in Co. Wicklow, Eire; it is 15 ft high and 27 ft across (1966). The specimen at Kew, referred to in the Botanical Magazine under the number cited, died in 1959; it was about 12 ft high and 15 ft across.

B. megrelica Sosn. – This birch, also a native of the Caucasus, was described as late as 1930. It is allied to the preceding but differs in its tree-like habit and in its leaves, which are more ovate in shape, 114 to 3 in. long, 23 to 214 in. wide, rounded to slightly heart-shaped at the base and gradually narrowed at the apex (but more rounded in outline on short shoots). Probably not yet introduced.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 26 ft high with a spread of 39 ft (1974); Aldenham Park, Herts., 40 × 312 ft with a 5 ft bole (1976); Westonbirt, Glos., in Victory Glade, pl. 1939, 31 × 234 ft at 1 ft (1978); Talbot Manor, Norfolk, pl. 1943, 26 × 134 ft (1978); Thorp Perrow, Bedale, Yorks., pl. c. 1930, 30 × 212 ft and 33 × 214 ft (1981).

B. megrelica – This species was introduced to Britain recently by means of seed received from the Moscow State University.



Other species in the genus