River Birch

All About River Birch:

Scientific Nomenclature: Betula nigra

Common Names: river birch, black birch, water birch

Mature Height: 30–70 feet

Mature Spread: 30–50 feet

Growth Rate: Rapid

Attracts Wildlife: Pollinators, select moth species, birds and small mammals

Messiness: Drops its leaves in autumn. Bark exfoliates throughout its life in large, flat, papery scales.

Shape: Open/Pyramidal

Native to Kentucky: Yes

Preferred Soils: River birch prefers wet sites and does best in moist, acidic (<6.0pH), sandy or rocky well-drained loam soil. It will occasionally tolerate dry sites as well as flooded conditions for extended periods of time.

Screening: River birch can be planted for screening but their irregular form makes it more difficult to maintain them as a screen.

Drought Tolerance: Does not tolerate drought well at all; it is recommended to mulch the tree and use soaker hoses during dry periods to ensure that the roots are cool and moist.

Coniferous or Deciduous: Deciduous

Pruning: This tree requires little pruning other than removing deadwood or damaged limbs. Be sure not to prune this tree during winter or spring as its sap is running and the tree will bleed extensively.

Climate Quick Facts:

Following being planted as a sapling, over 20 years one river birch will:

  • Sequester ~1,308 pounds of CO2.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff by 360 gallons.