|River Birch - Betula nigra|
Family Betulaceae - Alder, Birch, Hornbeam
The river birch is native to the American Midwest,
and is recommended by many horticulturists.
|The river birch is a large deciduous tree, growing 90 feet in height and spreading 30 to 50 feet. It grows at a medium to rapid rate, 30 to 40 feet over a 20-year period. It lives only 30 to 40 years on many urban sites, possibly due to a shortage of water. River birches situated in moist areas live longer.|
Birch grows in climates ranging from boreal to humid and tolerates wide variations in precipitation. Its northern limit of growth is arctic Canada and Alaska, in boreal spruce woodlands, in mountain and sub alpine forests of the western United States, the Great Plains, and in coniferous - deciduous forests of the Northeast and Great Lakes states.
Unlike other kinds of birch tree, the fruits of the River Birch mature in the spring following flowering. The trunk of this tree often is short, branching into several large limbs that grow upward. The bark of younger trees is pinkish to reddish brown. When older it is shaggy and silver-gray to black. The River Birch favors moist soils and typically is found growing on stream banks and in swampy lowlands. In her book on The Woody Plants of Ohio, Lucy Braun calls this a "semi-aquatic species" since it can survive flooding for several weeks at a time.
This tree grows throughout most of the eastern United States and westward to eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas. It is more common in the South, where it is the only birch tree that is found at low altitudes. although not of great commercial importance, manufacturers sometimes use it for furniture and woodenware. It also is planted for its ornamental value and is very effective in preventing stream bank erosion.
Separate male and female flowers are borne on the same tree; the male in the form of a catkin, and the female in cone-like clusters that fall from the tree and are blown for long distances by the wind. In the fall, the foliage turns pale yellow.
|Tree Encyclopedia / North American Insects & Spiders is dedicated to providing scientific and educational resources for our users through use of large images and macro photographs of flora and fauna.|
The birches have long been popular ornamental trees in North America, chiefly in the northern United States and Canada. Our specimens include river birch, Dahurian birch, paper birch, Arctic birch, Manchurian birch, Manchurian alder, downy birch, Japanese white birch, and 10 other species.
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