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River Birch

Scientific Name

Betula nigra

Origin

A native of eastern North America.  Can be found in the U.S. from Florida north to Minnesota and as far west as Kansas.

Habitat

Tends to be found along streams in areas of low to medium elevation. Often found near water growing on sandbars or islands, stream banks, lakeshores and in floodplain areas. Does well in poorly drained to well drained soils.  

Growth Nature

A fast growing tree that generally forms its own multi-stemmed thickets. Can grow 1.5 to 3 ft. per year and reach heights of 70 to 80 ft. with a spread of 30 to 50 ft. Produces a high number of seeds that get spread by wind and water that establish themselves easily. A short lived tree, lasting about 30 to 40 years in the typical landscape setting.

Points of Interest

  • Highly prized by wildlife. Deer will browse on its twigs and leaves. Beaver eat the bark. Rabbits feed on the saplings. Birds, such as the wild turkey and the Carolina Chickadee feed on the seeds, as do voles and shrews.  Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers drill holes to get to the sap. The sap is also valued by Ruby-throated hummingbirds, insects and squirrels.

  • Useful in creating buffer plantings and in reclamation areas.

  • Good for erosion control and the timber is used in inexpensive furniture, basket making, toys, turned items and in artificial limbs.

  • Excellent plant for creating native landscapes in areas that tend to be wet and are often in partial shade.