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Birch, River Betula nigra

River Birch - Betula nigra
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The cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark of the River Birch is spectacular in the winter. Lustrous, medium-green leaves. Most borer resistant birch. Tolerant of both wet soils and dry summers. Avoid very alkaline soils. Grows to 40' to 70', 40'-60' spread.(zones 4-9)

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Zones 4 - 9 Zones 4 - 9
Hardiness Zones 4 - 9
The River Birch can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map. View Map
Ornamental Tree Ornamental Tree
Type of tree
Ornamental Trees, Shade Trees
40' - 70' High 40' - 70' High
Mature Height
The River Birch grows to be 40' - 70' feet in height.
40' - 60' Spread 40' - 60' Spread
Mature Spread
The River Birch has a spread of about 40' - 60' at full maturity.
Medium to Fast Growth Medium to Fast Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a medium to fast growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
Sun
This birch does well in full sun, partial shade.
Various Soils Various Soils
Soil
The River Birch grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well drained, wet, wide range, clay soils.
Oval Shape Oval Shape
Shape
This birch has oval, pyramidal, upright or erect shape.
Attributes

The River Birch has become a popular landscape tree because of its distinctive bark and graceful crown. It also is said to be the Birch most resistant to borers, and can tolerate drier conditions than other Birches. Its small but plentiful seeds are appreciated by a wide range of songbirds.

Description

The cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark of the River Birch is spectacular in the winter. Lustrous, medium-green leaves. Most borer resistant birch. Tolerant of both wet soils and dry summers. Avoid very alkaline soils. Prune only when dormant and not when sap is flowing. Grows to 40' to 70', 40'-60' spread. (zones 4-9)

Wildlife Value

The catkins of the River Birch are used by redpolls and pine siskins. The foliage is eaten by deer and other browsers.

History/Lore/Use

The River Birch is one of the 12 Birch species that extend southward from the Arctic Circle. It is the only one that grows naturally at low elevations in the southeastern part of the United States. Mud is a natural bed for the seedlings and the tree is excellent for holding stream banks and thus helping to keep erosion in check.

Moisture

While it will tolerate moderate flooding, it also has some drought resistance.

Leaves

This trees leaves are 1-1/2 to 3 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide with tiny hairs on stem and the underside of a stout midrib.

Flower Color

Flowers are brown or green.

Bloom Time

The flowers bloom in April to May.

Fruit Description

The fruit is elongated, 1 to 3 inches long.