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Common Name:

River Birch

Scientific Name:

Betula nigra

Family Name:



River Birch is a medium to large size deciduous shade tree with outstanding peeling cinnamon colored bark. The fine textured foliage can turn a good yellow in autumn and the pyramidal growth form is graceful in youth.

Plant Habit or Use:

Medium tree, large tree



Flower Color:

Females green and inconspicuous, males in brownish catkins are mildly interesting

Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

Slender 1 inch to 1.5 inch long strobile cone-like structures


40 ft to 60 ft in Texas landscapes, 90 ft in wild


20 ft to 30 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: High Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Low Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Low Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: High Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Low Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

USDA Hardiness Zones:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

River Birch is the only available birch species suitable for wide-spread use in Texas; tends to become chlorotic on neutral to high pH soils; moderately resistant to bronze birch borer.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.