Witch's Broom - Taphrina betulina

Alternative names
Birch Besom

Witch's Brooms are masses of densely branched small twigs found amongst the branches of trees and said to resemble a witch's broom. They can be induced by various parasites including the fungus Taphrina betulina which affects Birch trees. However, these growths may be caused by other different types of organisms, including other fungi, oomycetes, insects, mistletoe, dwarf mistletoes, mites, nematodes, phytoplasmas, or viruses and they are not yet fully understood. For this reason all Taphrina betulina records added to NatureSpot should be submitted as ‘'Likely'.

Identification difficulty

Found on birch, particularly Downy Birch and Silver Birch

When to see it

All year round.

Life History

The broom growths may last for many years, typically for the life of the host plant.

UK Status

Common and widespread in Britain.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map