Betula nigra L.
River birch, Red birch
Betulaceae (Birch Family)
The gracefully branched river birch is a 30-50 ft., usually multi-trunked tree
which can reach 90 ft. in height. Often slightly leaning and forked tree
with irregular, spreading crown. A spreading crown of several large, ascending limbs support slightly weeping branches. The tree’s selling point is its satiny, silver bark
that peels to reveal a cinnamon-brown trunk beneath. Fall foliage is yellow but seldom effective.
This is the southernmost New World birch and the only birch that occurs at low altitudes in the southeastern United States. Its ability to thrive on moist sites makes it useful for erosion control.
Image Gallery: 11 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Complexity: Simple Breeding System:
, Monoecious Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Tan brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar
AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC Native Distribution:
N. FL to scattered New England localities, w. to e. TX & s.e. MN Native Habitat:
Swamps, Flood plains, bottomland, Ditches, Ravines, Depressions, Stream, river banks USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
High Light Requirement:
Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist Soil pH:
Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2) CaCO3 Tolerance:
None Soil Description:
Sandy, moist soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based Conditions Comments:
River birch is fast growing and long-lived and is probably our most trouble-free birch. Do not prune until summer when the sap
has stopped flowing. Well-suited to areas that are periodically wet. Develops iron chlorosis on high pH soils. Chlorosis is more often due, however, to dryness. Trees is dry situations may defoliate, languish and die.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Attractive, Fall conspicuous, Fast growing
Use Wildlife: Seeds-granivorous birds, Browse, Seeds-Small mammals