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River Birch

Will Ship Spring 2024

Plant Type: Dormant, bare-root

Zones:  4-9

Soil Type:  Clay, Loamy & Sandy Soils

Site Selection: Full Sun, Partial Sun

Mature Height & Width:  50-70' Height and 40-60' Spread

Growth Rate:  Moderate - 12-24" per year on average

Moisture Requirements: Average to wet soils

Plant Characteristics

River Birch

Betula nigra

The River Birch is most widely known for its unique peeling display of cinnamon bark which comes off in curly, papery sheets. This tree is an excellent tree for all seasons; the fall and winter interest is spectacular. This selection is the most deer resistant of the birches and one of the more Birch Borer resistant birches available. The River Birch is an interesting tree that looks great either under landscape lighting or holding erosion at bay near your creek or stream. This birch tree is both drought resistant and flood tolerant for up to 2-3 months at a time once established.

This selection is sometimes known as the Red Birch, Black Birch or Water Birch. 

The River Birch is drought tolerant once it is established although it may lose its leaves early in drought years.  This tree is also flood tolerant for periods of up to three months long.  In the home landscape, these trees look great in clumps of 3, 5 or 7 trees.  As the branches grow on the River Birch, they tend to hang down.  Trimming these trees up the first 6 to 8 feet once established allows you to see the beautiful cinnamon colored peeling bark and enjoy the rest of the beautiful shiny deep green leaves.  Plant 3 to 5 per hole to make a future ornamental clump of birches.  

Common uses for the River Birch include:

  • Ornamental - interesting peeling bark display
  • Erosion control along stream and river banks
  • Tree for areas prone to temporary flooding
  • Great cover for deer hunting plots

The seeds from the River Birch are sought by many songbirds and its catkins are favorites of Pine Siskins and Redpolls.  The bottomland hardwoods in which River Birch occurs are prime wildlife habitat, providing nesting sites for waterfowl, and food and cover for many animals.


Product Questions

How far apart should river birch be planted? We ordered 10 river birch trees. Should they be planted in clumps of 3-4?
Question by: Kristin Kaptain on May 27, 2022, 10:55 AM
You can plant them in single stem or if you choose you can do a clump, there is no right or wrong way. If you want to plant in clumps, place the stems about 3-4" apart in the same planting hole and back fill with soil
Answer by: Chief River Nursery on May 27, 2022, 11:17 AM
Do deer bother river birch seedlings of any size?
Question by: Rose on Dec 9, 2022, 9:14 PM
River Birch are deer resistant. The deer do not typically choose to eat River Birch.
Answer by: Chief River Nursery on Dec 12, 2022, 8:28 AM