Home   About Us   FAQ  
Searching   Image Use Plant Books
FloraFinder uses cookies only for correct operation. More info. Okay

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
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:


The Ohio State University PLANTFacts database

The USDA Forest Service's Silvics of North America site

The Missouri Botanical Garden



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 Audubon 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, Maine · ≈ 12 × 8″ (31 × 20 cm) ID is uncertain


Betula nigra description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


Betula nigra (river birch, black birch)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 1 × 1½′ (34 × 52 cm)

Betula nigra (river birch, black birch)

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

Betula nigra (river birch, black birch)

4/3/2010 · Point Lookout (Elev 550'), Lincolnville, Maine

Range: Zones 4-9:

About this map...