Betula nigra, River Birch, Red Birch

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Noted for beautiful, exfoliating bark and multiple trunks, River Birch is an
excellent food source for wildlife, supporting hundreds of species of moths,
butterflies, and songbirds. It is commonly found in the Piedmont and
Coastal Plain of the Mid-Atlantic Region from Pennsylvania to Virginia.

Print Version: Betula nigra, River Birch, Red Birch

Tree   Height: 50–70 feet Spread: 35–50 feet Bloom Color: Yellow-green from April-May Characteristics  Fast-growing, deciduous tree with single or (more desirable) multiple trunks, irregular crown  Oval or triangular leaves 1–12⁄3 inches long, alternate, simple  Male flowers: 2–3 inches long, red-green catkins  Female flowers: 1⁄4–1⁄2 inch long, light-green upright catkins, which become cone-like fruits    Young trunks have exfoliating, reddish bark; older trunks are a deeply furrowed gray with pink tints  Attributes  Tolerates clay soil, wet soil, drier soil, compacted sites, heat, and air pollution; intolerant of shade  Greater pest and disease resistance than other birches; deer rarely damage     Attractive bark peels in papery layers to reveal multiple colors, providing interest in winter & snow  Attracts birds to its seeds; larval host of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Red-spotted Purple butterflies and numerous moth species Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Humus-rich, acidic soil Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Use as a lawn tree, in rain gardens (larger than 150 sq ft) or on stream banks (to control erosion) Hardiness: USDA Zones 4–9 Excellent Replacement for Albizia julibrissin - Mimosa / Silk Tree Allanthus altissima - Tree of Heaven Alnus glutinosa - European Alder Pyrus calleriana - Callery (Bradford) Pear Salix babylonica - Weeping Willow

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets