They have a pyramidal growth habit when young, maturing to oval. The green foliage turns yellow to orange, showcased against the smooth, steel-gray bark sporting distinctive fluting.
Betulus is the genus name for birch, in reference to the birch-like characteristics of this species. As the common name suggests, the extremely hard wood of this tree will take a horn-like polish, and was once used in Europe to make yokes for oxen (the beam between the oxen's horns).
This tree, if limbed-up, provides excellent, dense shade for lawns and parks, or can be pruned in late summer, into a hedge.