It is a monoecious shrub growing up to 1–1.2 m high. The bark is non-peeling and shiny red-copper colored. The leaves are rounded, 6–20 mm diameter, with a bluntly toothed margin. The leaves are a darker green on their upper surface. Leaf growth occurs after snow melt and become red in autumn. The wind-pollinated fruiting catkins are erect, 5–15 mm long and 4–10 mm broad.
Betula nana is native to arctic and cool temperate regions of Greenland, Iceland, northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America and it will grow in a variety of conditions. Outside of far northern areas, it is usually found growing only in mountainsabove 300 m, up to 835 m in Scotland and 2200 m in the Alps. Its northern range limit is on Svalbard, where it is confined to warm sites.
In general, it favors wet but well drained sites with a nutrient poor, acidic soil which can be xeric and rocky. B. nana has a low tolerance for shade.
(From Wikipedia, June 2018)