Trees

Birch, River Betula nigra

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: 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:
The River Birch falls into the following type(s): 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.

More Info
More Info

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.