FLORA OF ICELAND elements: Betula nana, dwarf birch

Betula nana; the dwarf birch is common all over Iceland except for some regions of the interior. It is a creeping dwarf-shrub (woody stems) which can be easily recognized from it's big brother the downy birch, (B. pubescens) by the shape of the leaves. The leaves of the dwarf birch has a more round shaped leaves with the broadest size towards the end of the leaf, where the downy birch has a more diamond shaped leaf. In most cases one can identify them by their different growth forms. Hybrids do occur though (see the card of B. pubescens). Outside Iceland, the species is restricted to arctic and sub-arctic regions but can also be found in some high mountain regions of Europe. It seems the bark of this species was used in Russia to distill an oily substance that was used to prepare leather. The dwarf birch is member of the birch family (Betulaceae). The Icelandic name of this species is Fjalldrapi.

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A brief introduction to Iceland plants
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk - unless stated otherwise


Detail of catkin flowers
photo of prostrate growing branches
Another twig with catkins
Typical growth
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Detail of catkin flowers
photo of prostrate growing branches
Another twig with catkins
Typical growth
reload original photo

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