Life Span Of Birch Trees: How Long Do They Live?

How Long Does A Birch Tree Live

Birches are the most popularly used trees for home landscaping. Do you have a birch tree in your yard? If yes, then you may agree that it adds a decent glow and beauty to your home.

Known for their magnificent and slender bark, birches belong to the genus Betula. Birch spread their cover through the entire wilderness of Alaska. Most people prefer tapping the birch trees for high sap yield.

When cultivated under optimal conditions the average lifespan of a birch tree is more than 100 years. However, there are still some factors that can badly affect the growth of birch trees and how long does a birch tree live.

Jump To

  1. Downy Birch Lifespan
  2. How Long Does A White Birch Tree Live?
  3. Gray Birch
  4. How Old Do Yellow Birch Trees Get?
  5. How Long Does A River Birch Tree Live?
  6. How Long Does A Silver Birch Tree Live?
  • What Is The Oldest Birch Tree?
  • How To Enhance Birch Tree Lifespan?
  • How Do You Know If A Birch Tree Is Dying?
  • FAQs

    These factors like drought, diseases, lack of sun exposure, shallow root systems and more can decrease the lifespan of birch trees to around 20-30 years. So, how long does a birch tree live? It usually depends on the situation and area where it is planted.
    Here, you will learn about how long these trees live and various factors that influence the life span of birch trees.

    Where Do Birch Trees Grow?

    As we mentioned above, birches are related to the genus Betula, which means ‘to shine’ in Latin. In traditional German, these hardwood deciduous trees are also famous as ‘Birka’.
    In Canada and the U.S., you can find birches in the form of shrubs or trees. In the wilderness, birch trees need cool and moist soils to thrive well. With a shallow root system, the birches are highly sensitive to extremely hot, dry soils and even short duration of droughts.
    So, when you are thinking to grow a birch tree in your yard, make sure to choose a well moist, cool, and shaded area. But, remember that birches need full to partial shade to grow their bright leaves. Read on to find out to know more about the life span of birch trees.

    How Long Does A Birch Tree Live?

    Most homeowners like to have birch trees due to their ornamental look. However, these trees require routine care to grow healthy and live long. Under optimal conditions like well-moist and cool soil these trees can live more than 300 years.
    While its leaves are able to grow brightly in full to partial sun exposure. The ideal conditions for growing a birch increases their life expectancy. On an average, a healthy birch tree can live for around 40 to 50 years.
    However, in unusual situations, many birch trees are not able to reach maturity and die. Below is a list of popular birch trees and their lifespan.

    1. Downy Birch Lifespan

    With white-grey bark, downy birch is a beautiful medium-sized tree. Its various lenticular and horizontal characteristics make it perfect for landscaping. In spring it grows lovely flowers with extended fruits. Further, it has attractive triangle-shaped leaves.
    These birch trees are native to Greenland and Iceland. Besides this, the trees also spread their cover in most regions of Asia and Northern Europe. They require badly drained and wet soil for optimum growth. These trees have great commercial worth since they are often used for the construction of plywood objects including indoor furniture.
    Under perfect conditions, a downy birch tree can live for 80 to 100 years and sometimes for around 200 years.

    2. White Birch Tree Lifespan

    The white birch tree (Betula papyrafera) is most commonly known as silver birch and paper birch. The leaves of this tree are a little triangular in shape. Its bark is reddish brown and white that easily peels off. Because of their ornamental look, these species are highly used for residential landscaping.
    Most people also keep wondering ‘how long does a white birch tree live?’. In forests, the white birch tree can thrive for about 80 to 140 years. However, when it comes to the lifespan of white birch for your yard, the trees may thrive for a shorter lifespan around 30 to 40 years.
    These trees are usually located in the northern region of North America. Their sap is highly useful to prepare beer, birch syrup and wine.

    3. Gray Birch

    With a triangle-shaped and grayish bark, this birch grows very quickly. But the average lifespan of a birch tree (gray birch) is 50 years. It thrives nicely in drained soil and occasionally it needs sandy soil.
    Most commonly it is located in regions of North America. It bears sweet fruit that usually matures in fall. This birch has many commercial uses including high-quality plywood and the making of furniture.

    4. How Old Do Yellow Birch Trees Get?

    How long does a birch tree live if it’s a yellow birch? These are beautiful and large-sized trees with striking color. In autumn, its beautiful leaves turn golden yellow. At the same time, its glossy bark starts to peel off during fall and get brilliant texture.
    In the beginning of the growing period, its birch is deep yellow-brown in color. But as the tree reaches the age of maturity  it turns from  grayish silver to dark red-brown.
    In spring, this birch develops small-sized yellow blossoms that turn into beautiful catkins. These can survive for a long period of time. When it comes to yellow birch, typically, the average life span of a birch tree is 150 years in the wilderness, while some of its species can grow for more than 300 years.

    5. River Birch

    How long does a river birch tree live? The answer to this common question is between 55 and 75 years. With alternate and ovate-shaped bright leaves river birch forms a perfect option for home landscaping.


    The tree can be found in medium to large sizes and grows into several trunks. While growing it can reach a height of about 25 to 30 m. These birches require well moist soil to grow best.
    While it can be primarily found in floodplains and swamps of the Eastern United States.


    Most people use birch sap to prepare vinegar and beer. Through the healthy life span of birch trees, these trees bear small fruits that fully grow at the end of the spring season.

    Related: When to Plant River Birch Trees

    6. How Long Does A Silver Birch Tree Live?

    Commonly known as paper birch, these trees can grow for around 80-135 years.

    What Is The Oldest Birch Tree?

    As we discussed earlier the average lifespan of a birch tree depends if the surrounding environment is optimal. If the surrounding is favorable the birch trees can survive well for above three hundred years.
    For example, Betula alleghaniensis, commonly known as the yellow birch can live healthy for about 300 years. While there are also sweet birch trees with smooth and white-colored bark.
    The oldest known birch tree is about 360 years old as per records. With slender, irregularly shaped and less dense branches this birch has beautiful leaves.

    How To Enhance Birch Tree Lifespan?

    In order to improve the lifespan of birch trees there are certain ways that you will need to follow daily. It’s only then that you will be able to take care of the birch tree in your backyard.
    Remember they are prone to the bronze borers and other insects. The tree is also susceptible to developing diseases. To overcome these issues it is important to have a preventive insect control program.
    First of all, make sure to take care of your birch tree daily. And, remember to practice the following regularly, pruning, monitoring, watering and lastly adding fertilizer. These tips will enhance the growth of birch tree roots and improve their stress tolerating capacity.
    These trees grow healthy when you feed them with the right fertilizers filled with macronutrients and micronutrients.

    How Do You Know If A Birch Tree Is Dying?

    To know how well your birch tree is doing, look at the branches, leaves, and bark. The worrying signs include excessive wilting of leaves without season, holes in the bark, dead branches, rotting patches with fungus growing on them, root damage, etc.

    FAQs About Life Span Of Birch Trees

    Q. What are the different types of Birch trees?

    A. There are a large number of birch tree varieties that you can choose from in order to enhance your backyard. From weeping birch varieties to small birch varieties you can pick anyone based on your garden size.
    In addition, to the white birch, downy birch, grey birch, yellow birch, sweet birch and silver birch trees, there are more species.
    Some common names are Himalayan birch, European birch, Dwarf birch and so on. They are usually native species to Europe, North America and Asian regions.

    Q. How fast does a birch tree grow?

    A. Most birch trees usually grow at a medium to quick rate. Ultimately, they attain a height of 8m and spread 3m in 10 years, in 20 years they reach 18m in height and 4m wide. Whereas in 20 years some birches grow up to 25m tall and spread up to 10m.
    You can easily distinguish mature birch trees through their conical, narrow shaped branches drooping and twigs hanging.

    Q. How to care for a Birch tree?

    A. In order to boost the lifespan of your cultivated birch trees, you should follow an excellent birch care routine. It can be easily done by providing suitable conditions for the birch tree in your yard as in forests. That’s right.
    Make sure to grow them in cool, shaded and moist soils. While, you should also take care that they receive adequate sunlight to thrive well. The best thing is to plant your birch in a region where the leaves get good sunlight and the roots are buried in moist soil.

    Q. How tall are birch trees?

    A. On an average, the birch trees can reach a height between 40 feet and 70 feet, with a canopy spread from 35 to 60 ft wide. However, their maturity size still depends on the different verities of birch trees.
    When it comes to home landscaping, the birch trees are often prone to health problems and usually remain smaller in height.

    Q. How to identify a Birch tree leaf?

    A. Birch trees can be easily pointed out with their gray, yellow or white bark peeled off. Now, if you observe its leaves, they have serrated margins and will appear triangle/diamond shaped with pointed edges.

    Q. Do birch trees fall over easily?

    A. During storms, birch trees are fairly not susceptible to snapping off. But sometimes its branches can easily fall over on a very windy day. This particularly happens in cases when the birch is loaded with ice and snow all over. So, if you are looking for a taller tree to enjoy cool shade, you should probably start your search again.

    Q. How do you tell if a tree needs to be cut down?

    A. When in doubt whether or not to chop down that tree in your yard, look for the following signs: You have rotting roots, fungus issue, loss of branches, dying trunk, storm damage, shedding of leaves and much more.

    Q. What kills river birch trees?

    A. The most common problem that can kill river birch trees are the decaying of wood and rotting of roots. Root rotting is led by the armillaria fungus, which completely destroys the inner tissues of the birch like lower trunk and major roots. Also, look out for dying branches under the lower canopy areas and premature falling of small leaves.
    This is all we had on how long does a birch tree live. Look out for the warning signs to enhance the life span of birch trees. Stay tuned for more wit and wisdom!