River Birch

Common Name: 
River Birch
Scientific Name Genus: 
Family Name: 
Identification Notes
Grows best in medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade.
Native Habitat
eastern US; zones 4-9
Growth Habit
40-70' tall, 40-60' wide
Oval to pyramidal when young becoming rounded to irregular with age
Single or multistem
Medium to fast growth rate
Betula nigra form
Medium to dark green, 1.5-3.5" long diamond-shaped leaves with doubly serrated margins
Yellow fall color; leaves drop quickly
Bark and Stems
Attractive exfoliating bark
Young trunks and branches have thinner, red-brown bark; older plants have white to orange bark exfoliating in larger sheets; very old trunks become more plated and furrowed or ridged
Provides multi-season interest
Betula nigra older bark
Betula nigra exfoliating bark
Male catkins are 2-3" long in bloom, usually in groups of 3s
Female catkins are 1-1.5" long
Catkins of small nutlets
Common Problems
Can have iron chlorosis in high pH soils
Can have leaf spot in wet years
If weakened or stressed bronze birch borer can be a problem
Varieties or Cultivars
'Cully' aka Heritage - better disease resistance; bark peels at younger age; usually multi-stemmed
'Little King' aka Fox Valley - dwarf cultivar; 15' tall, branches close to ground
Landscape Uses
Specimen or small groups; good for wet areas and along streams or ponds.