This is up to 30 m tall deciduous tree with white bark. The crown is made of slender arching branches with drooping branchlets - hence the name 'pendula'.
Young shoots are brownish red and bear slightly sticky buds. The leaves are triangular, sticky when young, with double-toothed serrate margins. Inflorescences (amentum) are separated - male and female. The flowers are pollinated by wind.
Silver birch is one of the first trees to produce leaves in spring often even at the end of March.