What causes white birch to become white?

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by John Hosie, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. John Hosie

    John Hosie Active Member

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    I'm sure everyone is familiar with the white birch trees and how beautiful they look with the bright white bark. But what causes it to become white? Is there a way to artificially induce the bark to become white?

    I'm asking because I've got a couple of dozen seedlings I wanted to use for Bonsai, and though they are nice looking small trees, I'd really like to be able to accelerate the whitening so I could have a display of a grove of somewhat small ones. I'd think a display with half a dozen small white birch, a young dwarf Alberta spruce or two, dwarf junipers, and Japanese Maples would be exquisite. But while I can get dwarf JMs, some with tiny leaves, some hollies, boxwood, cotoneaster, several different dwarf conifers, and can even get some nice tiny leaved ground covers - and, of course, moss, the thing I'm lacking is small white birch that are white.

    Any information would be appreciated.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Spray the stems with water, to wash off the old bark and reveal the white beneath.

    You won't be able to do this until there is white bark underneath, waiting to be exposed.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It is the result of the bark producing a natural wax called betulin. And there's no known way to stimulate ealy betulin production.
     
  4. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    I think it's old-age & stress. Turned my sprouts white a few years ago.
     
  5. GreenLarry

    GreenLarry Active Member 10 Years

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    Not sure about inducing the white, but I know a trick from a bonsai forum. Tapping the lower part of the stem witg a hammer breaks the outer layer and causes it to produce bark early.
     

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