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Common Name:

River Birch

Scientific Name:

Betula nigra

Family Name:

Betulaceae

Description:

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

Exposure:

sun

Flower Color:

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

Blooming Period:

Spring

Fruit Characteristics:

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

Height:

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

Width:

20 ft to 30 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Low Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: High Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: High Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Medium Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Medium 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.