Betula nigra
Common name: 
River Birch
BET-u-la NI-gra
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Deciduous tree, usually not more than 40-70 ft (12-21 m) tall with a similar spread, rounded outline at maturity, trunk usually divided into several large arching branches.  Light brown (often reddish) bark exfoliating into papery plates, exposing inner bark of gray-brown or cinnamon to reddish-brown.  Large variation in bark color among trees.  Leaves alternate, 4-9 cm long, rhombic-ovate, sharp pointed, doubly serrate, base wedge shaped, lustrous medium to dark green above and glabrous below.
  • Sun.  Best adapted to moist, acid soils, will survive dry soils.  Bothered less by the bronze birch borer than many other birches.
  • Several cultivars, including:
    • Dura-Heat™  ('BNMTF')  -  reportedly heat resistant and suitable for the southern U.S., apparently from a seed source in Florida.  The leaves are described as being smaller, closer together on the twigs, thicker than the species, and more persistent in fall.
    • Fox Valley™  ('Little King')  -  dwarf form, about 10 ft (3 m) tall and 12 ft (3.6 m) wide, dense habit, peeling bark.
    • Heritage™  ('Cully')  -  a popular selection, it has tan to creamy white bark.  Considered heat tolerant, resistant to the bronze birch borer, and fast growing.  Introduced by in about 1970, the original tree found in a St. Louis suburb.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 4       Native from Massachusetts to Florida, west to Missouri and Kansas.
  • Corvallis: south side of Western Ave., one block east of 35th St. (Stamm Place and Western).
Click image to enlarge
  • male catkins, spring

    male catkins, spring

  • female flowers and male catkins

    female flowers and male catkins

  • plant habit, tree cluster and trunks

    plant habit, tree cluster and trunks

  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • leaves


  • leaves and young cones

    leaves and young cones

  • leaves and cones at seed drop

    leaves and cones at seed drop

  • seeds


  • leaf, fall

    leaf, fall

  • plant habit, fall

    plant habit, fall

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • twigs and buds, winter

    twigs and buds, winter