River Birch
Family: Betulaceae (View Members of Betulaceae)

Genus and species: Betula nigra

Leaves: The leaves are 1.5-3" (4-7.5cm) long and 1-2.5" (2.5-6cm) wide. (View Measured Leaf) They are ovate, doubly saw-toothed and they don't have a long tip like the European White Birch. They are shiny green on top and paler and hairy beneath. (View Leaves)

Bark: The bark is generally light brown or pale gray, but as pictured to the left, it is often very light, usually in younger trees. The bark can be separated into papery scales, but can become shaggy and rough with ridges. (View Bark) The twigs are reddish-brown and hairy.

Fruit: The cones are 1-1.5" (2.5-4cm) long, green at first, brown when ripe. They are cylindrical and can easily be broken into hairy scales and hairy 2-winged nutlets. (View Fruit)

Tree: The tree can be 40-80' (12-24m) in height, and usually has an irregularly spreading crown. For some reason, the tree generally leans to one side.

Range and Habitat: Can be found from Connecticut to Florida, west to Texas and North to Minnesota. They are commonly planted and scattered throughout Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire. They tend to like wet soil.

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River Birch Tree (Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, 9/29/02)