River Birch

Betula nigra

River Birch: Full Tree - Click for larger image
  • Family: Betulaceae

  • Medium-sized tree

  • Irregular and spreading crown

  • Reaches height between 12-24m ( 40-80’)

Twigs & Fruiting Structures
Distribution and Uses



River Birch: Leaves - Click for larger image
River Birch: Fruit - Click for larger image

Twigs & Fruiting Structures

  • Reddish-brown, thin, hairy twigs can be rough

  • 3 bundle scars and hairy buds that are narrowed at base

  • Drooping, yellow male catkins; upright, green female catkins

  • Brown, upright cones with hairy scales; 2½-4cm (1-1½”) in length 



  • Shaggy; reddish-brown and smooth when young; orange and peeling when mature

Distribution & Uses

  • Prefers wet soils near lakes, swamps, river banks, and flood plains

  • Distributed through most of eastern United States

  • Inhabits moist soils so is good for controlling erosion

  • Seeds eaten by grouse and wild turkeys


River Birch: Bark - Click for larger image