Also known as the Kashmir birch, Betula utilis var. jacquemontii is a medium-sized, vigorous, fast-growing, deciduous tree grown for its brilliant white, papery bark (rich brown when young) which peels to reveal bands of creamy-pinky-buff. Not as tall as the silver birch, the West Himalayan birch has a broad crown and a graceful, open habit. Long brownish-yellow male catkins up to 12cm (5in) long appear in early spring; the greenish female flowers produce small winged seeds from small cone-like fruits in autumn. Dark green, triangular leaves have paler undersides, and shimmer in the breeze; they turn yellow, sometimes caramel coloured, in autumn. The bark can be power-washed or scrubbed to keep it pristine. Lovely planted in groups or as a multi-stemmed specimen, especially striking against a dark evergreen background in winter.