river birch
Betula nigra L.
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, simple, two-ranked on twigs, with narrow soon-deciduous stipules; short-petiolate, petioles densely pubescent; blades mostly triangular-ovate, up to ca. 4” long by 1.2” wide; margins doubly-serrate
  • FLOWER: imperfect (unisexual), plants monoecious, male and female flowers in separate catkins; male catkins partially form in summer near tips of the current season’s growth, overwinter, and then complete development, mature and become elongate and pendant in spring as leaves emerge or just before; female catkins stalked, forming in spring, compact, born singly on the ends of short new lateral branches, female flowers 2-3 subtended by a three-lobed bract
  • FRUIT: small laterally winged nutlet maturing in late spring
  • TWIGS: young twigs pubescent, woody twigs slightly zigzagging, slender, dark reddish brown with small tan horizontally elongate lenticels; terminal buds lacking; pith tan and continuous
  • BARK: exfoliating into curling papery coppery patches, exposing yellowish to salmon-colored inner bark
  • FORM: small to medium tree, to ca 50-80’ tall and 1-2’ dbh, often flowering and fruiting when of shrub stature
  • HABITAT: small and larger stream banks and floodplains subject to pulse flooding of short duration
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Wetland (FACW): Usually occurs in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: wood used for inexpensive furniture, woodenware, wooden shoes, basket materials, toys, staves, and fuel; ornamental and planted for erosion control
  • WILDLIFE: browsed by whitetail deer; fruits eaten by many birds, including wild turkey
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. distinctive bark
    2. triangular-ovate leaves with double serrate margins