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Betula nigra

Betula nigra L.

 

River Birch, Black Birch

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFagalesBirch, she-oak, beech, walnut, bayberry, others
FamilyBetulaceaeBirch family: birches, alders, hazels, hornbeams and hop-hornbeams
GenusBetulaBirch
SpeciesnigraBlack, referring to the color of the seeds

About plant names...

River birch is native to the eastern United States.

Identification: Trees are up to 82' (25 m), rarely reaching 98' (30 m). They often have multiple trunks. The bark is highly variable. As with other birches, it peels away spontaneously (“exfoliates”), making the trunk look ragged. It may be dark gray-brown and scaly, pinkish-brown, or white and papery. Trees tend to be pyramid-shaped when they are young, becoming more irregular as they age. Leaves are dark green, alternate, unlobed. They are roughly diamond-shaped, with the top half of the diamond more pointed and with doubly serrated edges, while the bottom half is flatter and with smooth edges. Leaves turn yellow in the fall. Male and female flowers appear on the same tree. Male catkins are up to 3" (7.6 cm) long in April, while the female flowers are inconspicuous.

Online References:

Betula nigra on Carolina Nature, from Will Cook

Betula nigra at the Ohio State University PLANTFacts database

Betula nigra at the USDA Forest Service's Silvics of North America site

Betula nigra at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Betula nigra on CirrusImage.com

References:

Sibley, David Allen, The Sibley Guide to Trees, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, p. 158

Petrides, George A., Peterson Field Guides: Trees and Shrubs, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1972, p. 234, 338

Little, Elbert L., National Audabon Society Field Guide to North American Trees, Eastern Region, Alfred A. Knopf, 1980, p. 178, 366

Dirr, Michael A., Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, Timber Press, 1997, p. 56

Symonds, George W. D.; photos by Chelminski, Stephen V., The Tree Identification Book, Harper, 2003, p. 44

Betula nigra (River Birch, Black Birch)

5/29/2010 · Maine Audubon Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth, ME
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm) ID is uncertain

Betula nigra description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Betula nigra (River Birch, Black Birch)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 14 × 21" (34 × 52 cm)

Betula nigra (River Birch, Black Birch)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 10 × 15" (26 × 39 cm)

Betula nigra (River Birch, Black Birch)

7/7/2017 · Point Lookout (Elev 550'), Lincolnville, ME

Range: Zones 4-9:

About this map...