Herb: White Birch

Latin name: Betula platyphylla

Synonyms: Betula verrucosa platyphylla

Family: Betulaceae (Birch Family)

Medicinal use of White Birch:

The bark of the sub-species Betula platyphylla japonica is often used medicinally in Korea. It contains several medically active constituents including triterpenoids and flavonoids and is antifungal, anti-inflammatory and tonic. It is used in the treatment of conditions such as internal diseases and inflammation. The root bark, and other parts of the plant, show anticancer activity.

Description of the plant:


20 m
(66 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Highlands, C. and N. Japan.

Edible parts of White Birch:

Inner bark - cooked. Rich in starch. It can be dried and ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups etc or mixed with flour for making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap. Used for making a vinegar.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring - do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.

Cultivation of White Birch:

Highlands, C. and N. Japan.

Known hazards of Betula platyphylla:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.