Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: River Birch
Betula nigra

Family: Betulaceae (beh-tyoo-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Betula (BET-yoo-luh) (Info)
Species: nigra (NY-gruh) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

13 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By PotEmUp
Thumbnail #1 of Betula nigra by PotEmUp

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #2 of Betula nigra by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #3 of Betula nigra by Jeff_Beck

By hczone6
Thumbnail #4 of Betula nigra by hczone6

By hczone6
Thumbnail #5 of Betula nigra by hczone6

By sweezel
Thumbnail #6 of Betula nigra by sweezel

By sweezel
Thumbnail #7 of Betula nigra by sweezel

There are a total of 24 photos.
Click here to view them all!


8 positives
2 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Dec 3, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

River Birch is a fast growing medium-sized tree in most residential landscapes, usually getting about 30 to 40 ft high in such places. It grows about 2 to 2.5 ft/yr and lives about 100 years in nature. This birch does tolerate heat over 85 degrees F and so it does not get attacked by Bronze Birch Borer, unless it is very old and dying already. It does well in average well-drained soils or moist sois or draining wet soils that are acid about pH 5 to 6.5 as best, though it does fine up to pH 7, and a little more, but not much. It does get iron chlorosis in alkaline soils, as I have seen them yellow and die in the Chicago area from such; yet there are are good number doing well in the most commonly pH of 6.8 to 7.1 in that area. This species does drop a lot of dead branches much of the year and can drop some of leaves in summer. I find that birch trees are relatively easy to plant perennials around, especially if they are limbed up to show the beautiful bark.

Positive suentommy On Sep 7, 2010, suentommy from Souderton, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

We planted two river birches by the side corner of our garage about twenty years ago. They are fast growing and have developed into two large multi-stemmed trees that soften the corner of our home. We have not had root trouble with them. The area we planted them in has major water issues - a lawn tractor sunk into the ground and left huge ruts even in the middle of rather dry weather. These birches fixed that problem - almost too well. They soak up so much water that a nearby dawn redwood had trouble growing in the early years of its life and we were afraid we would lose it. The only thing I can reliably grow under them are hostas - which don't mind the drier conditions as long as I give them a good soaking every other day. Huechera has done alright as well but I think the dry conditions stunt its growth a little. These trees do drop leaves all summer if there is a lack of water and they drop sap and flowers in spring - don't park near them unless you want your car covered. Overall though they are great trees and have beautiful bark on them and they grow quickly enough that they are good trees to plant if you move into new construction and miss tree cover. They also work well if you like the look of birch trees but can't grow some of the other varieties due to heat. The river birch does not seem to mind hot weather.

Positive Qwilter On Apr 9, 2010, Qwilter from Fleming Island, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I live in a development. The 1st 3 trees we had in front of the house never did well & we had them each removed.
Decided to try a River Birch 4 years ago. Got a 12', 2 trunked. We, and all the neighbors, love this tree. It is now as tall as our 2 story house, but because it is so "open" doesn't provide too much shade.
We did have a problem with aphids the 2nd year, so not get it protected every spring. The roots have not been a problem at all. It will drop its leaves during dry spells but then with rain, they come back.
Because the leaves are so small, raking in the fall is rather easy.

Positive Kelly333 On Sep 10, 2008, Kelly333 from Longview, TX wrote:

I think the tree is beautiful. It provides shade, but dappled shade. I have had one of my trees for almost 20 years now. I would make sure you trim the lower limbs, so you can walk under the tree. I would not plant it right next to the house. The bark has a great texture, and color in the fall and winter. I have had borers get into one of the trunks of my older tree, which is a Heritage River Birch. The other tree I have is a native River Birch. It is just a few years old, and is doing great. These trees do like water, so I like to plant hostas under them. I would not let them dry out too much, because the leaves will turn yellow and drop leaves. I think it is a beautiful tree, and do not regret planting either of mine!

Negative mikey01h On May 21, 2008, mikey01h from Lawrenceville, GA wrote:

This tree was planted by the previous owner, my first impressions were positive because of the character of the bark. I have, over the years become quiet negative toward this type of tree and seriously considering having it removed. This tree is very messy, with small branches and leaves being a problem all year long. The roots are massive and very dense near the surface, starving peripheral plants of nutrients and water and choking their roots. I have many trees in my yard, of many varieties, and love them allexcept this one. I would defiantly not recommend this plant to anyone with a residential lot, I personally wouldnt even want it in my woods the bark indeed adds an interesting texture, but its not worth it in my opinion.

Neutral rosemarylove On Oct 16, 2007, rosemarylove from Barnhart, MO wrote:

This tree was planted by the previous owner of our home 18 years ago. In the spring it is a sight to behold with the catkins and peeling bark and beautiful branches swaying in the spring breeze. The owners had planted 2 birch only six feet apart and they were in the middle of the front yard and blocked the house numbers. I cut one down with my trusty axe and it wasn't too hard because it was only about 12 feet high. Fast forward 10 years after I cut the first one down. The tree is huge. Probably 35 or 40 feet high. There are big thick roots growing toward my front concrete porch and I am worrried about my foundation. Great to be online with other gardening lovers. Rosemary

Neutral frostweed On Jan 5, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

River Birch Betula nigra is Native to Texas and other States.

Positive sylvainyang On Aug 30, 2005, sylvainyang from Edmond, OK wrote:

I got a river Birch from Wal-Mart 6 months ago. I has doubled its size. I water it almost every day. $10 for a 2 gallons shurb
size plant when I get it. Now its over 6 feet tall. Nice leaves and good shape.

Positive ellyssian On May 22, 2005, ellyssian from Lehighton, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I've got two river birch, both planted alongside a stone stream that will deliver plenty of moisture to them.

The deer seem to particularly enjoy them, and I think the elder of the two I planted would be 10' tall if it weren't for the deer.

Positive lady_fuchsia On Jun 11, 2004, lady_fuchsia from Clarkesville, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I planted two River Birch in my garden, but I have several big and little ones growing naturally down by the creek. I love the peeling bark and dappled shade.The ones I planted don't really get enough water and have a slight problem with pests, but the rains the past two years have helped them to get stronger. They are about ten feet tall and have a real nice shape. I wish I had the ability to take a good picture and add it here.

Positive goodnature On Aug 27, 2003, goodnature wrote:

The River Birch's native habitat is on the river banks. In the landscape it does require a great deal of water to thrive, in fact, it is recommended to plant in problematic low areas of the property to improve standing water issues. It is rare that it can receive too much water. Signs that the tree is not happy are leaf drop and branch dieback. Several years of not practicing proper cultural maintenance will shorten the life of any plant. Plant this one where you can be sure it receives the required water and it will shine. You won't be sorry.

Negative Cyndi1 On Aug 27, 2003, Cyndi1 from Atlanta, GA wrote:

The good news: this tree is very fast growing and the peeling bark is lovely. It provides dappled shade. The bad news: Once the leaves appear in the spring, they start disappearing. This tree continuously drops leaves and small limbs. Its invasive root system can be hazardous to your foundations and decking. If you plant this tree in a landscaped area be prepared to rake leaves and twigs out of your shrubs and flower beds and sweep your decks and patios on a daily basis. We finally gave up and had our 40-ft tree removed.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama
Tuskegee, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Fremont, California
Green Cove Springs, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Lawrenceville, Georgia (2 reports)
Algonquin, Illinois
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Oskaloosa, Iowa
Andover, Kansas
Benton, Kentucky
Calvert City, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Bossier City, Louisiana
Gray, Louisiana
Plain Dealing, Louisiana
Severn, Maryland
Billerica, Massachusetts
Lawrence, Massachusetts
Gobles, Michigan
Brandon, Mississippi
Barnhart, Missouri
Saint Charles, Missouri
Helena, Montana
Lincoln, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
Hilton, New York
Staten Island, New York
Highlands, North Carolina
Edmond, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Cooksburg, Pennsylvania
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Lehighton, Pennsylvania
Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
Souderton, Pennsylvania
Belton, South Carolina
Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
Conroe, Texas
Denton, Texas
Houston, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Longview, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Port Arthur, Texas
Chesapeake, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Portsmouth, Virginia
Stanwood, Washington
Cambridge, Wisconsin
De Pere, Wisconsin

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America