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Betula nigra (River Birch)

River Birch, Black Birch

Betula nigra, River Birch, Black Birch, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree

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 has 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 a 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 United States.

Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Betulaceae
Genus Betula
Common names River Birch, Birch
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 40' - 70'
(12.2m - 21.3m)
Spread 40' - 60'
(12.2m - 18.3m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Southeast, Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Clay Soil, Wet Soil
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Ponds And Streams, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, Informal and Cottage
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch)
Betula nana (Dwarf Birch)
Betula pumila (Bog Birch)
Betula alleghaniensis (Yellow Birch)
Betula lenta (Sweet Birch)
Betula platyphylla (Japanese White Birch)

Recommended Companion Plants

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Hakone Grass)
Euphorbia wallichii (Wallich Spurge)
Cenolophium denudatum (Baltic Parsley)
Astrantia major ‘Roma’ (Great Masterwort)
Alnus serrulata (Smooth Alder)
Platanus occidentalis (American Sycamore)
Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum)
Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam)
Agarista populifolia (Florida Hobblebush)
Calycanthus floridus (Carolina Allspice)
Acer rubrum (Red Maple)
Magnolia virginiana (Sweet Bay Magnolia)

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Betulaceae
Genus Betula
Common names River Birch, Birch
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 40' - 70'
(12.2m - 21.3m)
Spread 40' - 60'
(12.2m - 18.3m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Southeast, Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Clay Soil, Wet Soil
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Ponds And Streams, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Traditional Garden, Informal and Cottage
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Do I Need?
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Betula (Birch)
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Betula (Birch)
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