Betula nigra, River 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 Betula nigra, River Birch

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


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