Silver birch grows in gardens, dry woodlands, downs and heaths. Downy birch tends to grow on damper soils than silver birch and can even tolerate peat bogs and clay.
There are two main native British species of birch tree – Silver Birch (Betula pendula) and Downy Birch (Betula pubescens). They are wind pollinated and have separate male and female flowers (catkins) on the same branch. Male catkins develop during the autumn and are covered by reddish brown scales, while female catkins are held upright on the twigs and are made up of overlapping green scales. Fertilised female catkins look a little like a cone and slowly break up in autumn to release wind dispersed winged fruit. The fruit and seeds are tiny (about 2 mm) and are produced in huge quantities!