Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
River Birch (Betula nigra)
- Family: Birch (Betulaceae)
- Flowering: April-May.
- Field Marks: The river birch is distinguished by its bark that curls and shreds into papery sections revealing a pinkish brown underbark.
- Habitat: Along rivers and streams, bottomland woods.
- Habit: Trees up to 75 feet tall, with a trunk diameter up to 2 feet; crown irregularly rounded.
- Bark: Curling and shredding into papery shreds, revealing a pinkish brown underbark.
- Buds: Up to 1/4 inch long, pointed, hairy.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, broadly triangular to ovate, coarsely doubly toothed, pointed at the tip, more or less cut straight across the base, paler and densely hairy on the lower surface, up to 3 inches long.
- Flowers: Male and female flowers borne separately but on the same tree, the male in slender, drooping clusters, the female in short, conelike, woolly clusters.
- Fruits: Tiny, hairy nutlets, each with a 3-lobed wing, crowded together in a cylindrical cone up to 1 1/2 inches long and up to 1/2 inch thick.
- Notes: This species is often planted as an ornamental. The wood is used in making furniture. The leaves turn yellow in autumn.
Previous Species -- Dull-leaf Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)
Return to Species List -- Group 5
Next Species -- Low Birch (Betula pumila)