This little guy started growing at multiple places on my balcony.

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As you can see, the stem is more woody than green so it seems to be a tree or bush. I live in northern Germany.

I was thinking hornbeam or maybe hazelnut. Can anyone say for sure?

  • Andre, my first impression was hazelnut, Corylus or Hornbeam, too! Baby plants are tougher than a mature specimen to ID. Think Stephie's got this one. Send more pictures. Are there mature trees nearby that could be the parent of this one? Pictures!
    – stormy
    May 7, 2017 at 17:59
  • @stormy there are a lot of different species of plants all around here. I would be surprised if there is no birch among them. I could actually spam this site with questions like this all the time but mostly I can ID them myself. Had to plug like 10 maples from the spaces between the base plates. I have maybe 5 of those birches. Also a dandelion and lots of clover. May 7, 2017 at 18:20
  • Huh! I knew you knew your stuff. A bird could have simply brought the seed over from afar. In America the Beautiful ha ha, Betula pendula is actually a WEED. It is listed on the top ten baddest weeds...or was. It has infiltrated and out competed indigenous species in our forests.
    – stormy
    May 7, 2017 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


Certainly not hazelnut and going by leaf shape, probably not hornbeam, but birch:

  • hornbeam has edges that seem a bit more "jagged" or "ripped" with narrow, almost "fibrous" tips, birch is more regular.
  • your leaves are a bit more heart-shaped: indicating birch over hornbeam
  • and finally the slight fuzz suggests moor birch Betula pubescens (German: Moor-Birke) rather than silver birch (B. Pendula)

Note that birch seeds are very light and easily blown around, a lot lighter than hornbeam. As a pioneer plant, birch is happy to germinate in the most unlikely places... If the stem (we'd like to see pictures, please, btw.) isn't white, that does not exclude birch, the bark turns white or silver in slightly older and larger specimens.

  • This could be it. I added a picture of the stem. Didn't think it was that important. May 7, 2017 at 13:27
  • 1
    Great call, Stephie! I like how you are explaining the ID prompters. That is very educational. I think we all ought to do this more often when we ID. Beautiful.
    – stormy
    May 7, 2017 at 17:56
  • Betula pubescens looks very good, Stephie. Is this a native tree over there in Germany?
    – stormy
    May 7, 2017 at 18:09
  • @stormy it is very common here. Just take a look at the distribution map in that linked Wikipedia article. May 7, 2017 at 18:30
  • @stormy absolutely. Your weed is our native tree ;-) I'm always impressed how birches show up on many suddenly bare areas, especially after storms or similar. This storm wiped out an entire strip of firs and gave us what is now a beautiful copse of birches. We had a front-row seat when the firs broke like matchsticks on just the other side of the meadow behind my parents' house.
    – Stephie
    May 7, 2017 at 19:43

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