River Birch (Betula nigra)

An outstanding  planting of river birch

An outstanding planting of River Birch

Closeup of exfoliating bark of River Birch

Close-up of exfoliating bark of River Birch

I must admit to you that River Birch is not one of my favorite trees. But the other day when I saw this grouping planted against the blank wall, as shown above, I thought it was striking and a stunning winter look. Their stark, sculptural, upright willowy branches and exfoliating bark make for an outstanding winter show. The reason they are not one of my favorite trees is that they always seem to have some type of bug that causes leaf drop in summer. Also, as they age, you are always picking up small twigs in winter. On the plus side, as trees go, they are cheap to buy and grow quickly. As the name implies, they do like moist locations best.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

2 thoughts on “River Birch (Betula nigra)

  1. I’m not a big fan of river birch either but I do love all the white birch we have up here in Wisconsin. I didn’t realize just how many different types of birch there were until I saw them growing in my neighborhood.

    • You are so right. The Birch trees in your area are sensational and much better landscape trees than here, because of your climate. If you use river birch here, it should be planted to view at a distance where you do not have to deal with its various problems like insects, limb drop, leaf drop, etc.

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