Betula nigra L.
River birch, black birch
|Kingdom||Plantae||Plants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae|
|Subkingdom||Tracheobionta||Vascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients|
|Division||Magnoliophyta||Flowering plants, also known as angiosperms|
|Class||Magnoliopsida||Dicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves|
|Subclass||Rosidae||Roses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more|
|Order||Fagales||Birch, she-oak, beech, walnut, bayberry, others|
|Family||Betulaceae||Birch family: birches, alders, hazels, hornbeams and hop-hornbeams|
|Species||nigra||Black, 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.
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
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.
5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Massachusetts · ≈ 1 × 1½′ (34 × 52 cm)
5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Massachusetts · ≈ 10 × 15″ (26 × 39 cm)
4/3/2010 · Point Lookout (Elev 550'), Lincolnville, Maine
Range: Zones 4-9:
About this map...