A dwarf, neat-habited bush 2 to 4 ft high, branches erect, not warted, clothed the first two years with minute down. Leaves round or occasionally broader than long, never pointed, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. diameter, conspicuously round-toothed except at the base; shining dark green above, prettily net-veined beneath, glabrous on both surfaces; veins in two to four pairs; stalk 1⁄12 in. or less long, with a fringed stipule at each side. Fruiting catkins erect, 1⁄3 in. long, shortly but distinctly stalked; scales glabrous, with lobes of about equal length, the middle one the broadest.
Native of northern latitudes in Europe (including N. Britain) and N. America, usually inhabiting moist places on mountains. In gardens it is useful for planting on the margins of streams and in moist places generally. Among shrubby birches it is distinguished by its round-toothed, orbicular leaves, and the absence of warts or glands on the shoots.
B. × intermedia Thomas B. alpestris Fries. – Hybrids between B. nana and B. pubescens. In the typical form the leaves are larger than in B. nana, and more ovate, but retain much of the characteristic toothing of that species. Such hybrids are found in many parts of Europe where the two species are in contact.