Downy birch (Betula pubescens) is a fast-growing and relatively small deciduous tree. Although quite similar to silver birch (Betula pendula), downy birch is distinguished by its hairy leaves and shoots.
Downy birch is of great ecological importance as it strengthens birds’ and insects’ biodiversity and contributes to watershed protection and soil stabilisation. The tree also forms a protective habitat for seedlings of more frost-sensitive species, such as the European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Norway spruce (Picea abies). With this ability, and with a canopy allowing a fair amount of light to pass through, the downy birch is suitable for reforestation and natural regeneration of forest habitats.