Betula nigra (River Birch) is a bushy deciduous tree prized for its incredible peeling bark. Salmon-pink, smooth and shiny at first, the bark flakes and curls in cinnamon-brown to blackish sheets. Vigorous and fast growing, this birch enjoys a large, pyramidal, upright habit and bears diamond-shaped, glossy green leaves with silvery undersides, which turn yellow in fall. In spring, tiny yellowish-brown male flowers appear in drooping catkins while greenish female flowers appear in upright catkins. The female flowers give way to drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds.
River birch can be grown as either a single trunk or multi-stemmed tree. Perfect for wet soils, this birch can tolerate locations with drier soils and is perhaps the most culturally adaptable and heat tolerant of the birches.
- Grows up to 40-70 ft. tall (12-21 m) and 40-60 ft. tall (12-18 m).
- A full sun or part shade lover, this plant is easily grown in average, wet soils. Adaptable and heat tolerant, this river birch will grow in a wide range of situations, including semi-aquatic conditions, but performs best in moist, slightly acidic soils. Consider using soaker hoses and bark mulches to keep the root zones cool and moist.
- Perfect as specimen plant or in borders, along ponds and streams, cottage gardens and foundation plantings.
- Low maintenance, this plant needs little pruning. If pruning is necessary, prune during the dormant season and avoid pruning in spring when the sap is running.
- May be affected by sawflies, aphids, rust and leaf spot.
- Propagate by softwood cuttings or grafting
- Native to central and eastern USA