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River Birch

TREES

GENUS/SPECIES


Betula nigra

FAMILY


Betulaceae

SYNONYMS


Common: Red Birch

DISTRIBUTION


Southeastern US

  • E Texas northward to Missouri
  • Missouri eastward to Maryland
  • Maryland southward to N Florida
  • N Florida westward to E Texas
  • Northward along Upper Mississippi Valley to SE Minnesota
  • Northward along Atlantic Coast to SE New York and S New Hampshire
  • Mostly absent from Appalachian Mountain systems and Lower Mississippi Valley

Comments

This is the only birch native to lowland areas of the southeastern US, and it is typically found in wet areas such as floodplains of rivers and streams. It is a medium-sized tree often cultivated as an ornamental because of its shaggy, brownish, papery bark that peels in layers. The male catkins, which soon release their wind-blown pollen, can be seen hanging in the early spring just as the leaves are beginning to develop while the female “cones” develop later, then disintegrate to release their seeds.