The River Birch Tree,
name Betula nigra is also sometimes known as the Water Birch, Black
Birch or Red Birch. This is an attractive plant from the birch
family (Betulaceae) which is native to the eastern parts of the United
States. It is a high tree which reaches 15 to 20 metres in height.
In its youth the bark of
the River Birch Tree is white with pink bottom tiers. As the tree
grows older the the bark becomes a salmon-red to a reddish brown color.
In many River Birch Trees the bark will naturally gradually peel away from
the trunk. This is a harmless process and the tree sould be left to peel
in its own time without human intervention. The peeling actually
looks very pleasant and gives your tree that extra added bit of character.
The branches are long and
downward hanging. The leaves are diamond shaped, up to 8 centimetres
long, with a broader base than the tip, and a gray bottom. During
the fall season the leaf color is a pleasant yellow.
Picture of River Birch
tree in golden autumn sunlight with exfoliating bark and diamond shaped
The plant has upright catkins
which are ripe as early as may. This type of tree grows best on wet, swampy
Where to Plant a River
Although it is naturally
inclined to like moist soil, the River Birch can grow wel on dier ground
too. The best pH level for this tree is between 4 to 6.5. Because
of the fact that these trees are sun-lovers and do not thrive well in shaded
areas, you should plant your River Birch tree in a spot which has a good
number of hours of sunlight through the day. The River Birch is tree
is often considered to be the best choice of white barked tree in places
with a pleasantly warm climate like Texas, Califormia and Florida.
Once fully grown the branches
of the River Birch give it a total spread of around 20 to 30 feet, therefore
you should allow for this when measuring the distance away from your house
at which to plant your tree. As a smaller alternative you could choose
a dwarf version, known as the Fox Valley Dwarf River Birch (Betula nigra
'Little King') . This smaller variety only grows 5 to 10 feet high
and is ideal for the smaller garden or simply those who prefer more petite