banner.jpg




Betula chichibuensis is the World's rarest birch species. Endemic to Japan, and with a very small extent of occurrence, it is confined to the Chichibu area in the mountains of Central Honshu. Of the ca. 76 species of birch, this particular species has been assessed as Endangered in the Red List of Threatened Plants of Japan. Growing as a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree (10m), in the wild, this birch makes a particularly attractive plant. Creamy yellow male catkins and red female catkins with tufts of violet styles provide spring interest, leading through to the autumn, when the leaves turns a delicious butter yellow. Even in the depths of winter and in the absence of foliage, the stems and branches with their prominent lenticels provide a degree of interest. In October 2014, we were fortunate to not only see this rare plant in the wild, but to collect viable seed. Locating this plant was an adventure in itself, and we were skilfully guided to it by staff from the University of Tokyo Chichibu Forestry Department


If you would like further information, please contact: Ben Jones, Arboretum Curator - ben.jones@obg.ox.ac.uk or Tom Price, Gardens Curator - tom.price@obg.ox.ac.uk