River birch Betula nigra

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
river birch


B. nigra is a bushy deciduous tree to 15m or more, with peeling bark, at first reddish-brown, later almost black; glossy dark green leaves turn yellow in autumn

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    of each 1. Erosion Control: Betula nigra can be planted to help control soil erosion due to its strong and aggressive root system. 2. Filtration: Betula nigra's large root system can help filter pollutants, such as oil spill runoff. 3. Wildlife Habitat: The plant provides shelter and food for various birds, mammals and insects. 4. Climate Change Mitigation: Betula nigra is a fast-growing species and helps reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. 5. Aesthetic Value: The bright white bark of the Betula nigra makes it a desirable aesthetic addition to gardens or parks. 6. Medicinal Benefits: Betula nigra has long been used in traditional medicine to heal wounds and reduce inflammation. 7. Industrial Uses: Betula nigra is used in furniture and paper production due to its hardwood properties.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    . 1. Asthma Treatment: Betula nigra, commonly known as black birch, is reported to have anti-asthmatic properties, such as reducing bronchial constriction and mucus production, which can be beneficial for those suffering from asthma. 2. Digestive Aid: Betula nigra has been traditionally used as an aid for digestion, as it can have a soothing effect on the digestive tract and promote regularity. 3. Skin Healing: The leaves of Betula nigra, when applied topically, may help accelerate the healing process of wounds, as it is an astringent, meaning that it contracts and tightens skin tissue. 4. Sedative: Taking Betula nigra root bark orally can have a calming and sedative effect, making it an effective remedy for insomnia and anxiety. 5. Antioxidant: Betula nigra is rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage. This can potentially help reduce risk factors for various diseases.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    The Betula nigra plant is known for its air purifying abilities. This species has been found to effectively filter out pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and formaldehyde in the air. The plant can also absorb airborne toxins and reduce the amount of VOCs present in the environment. Its dense foliage also acts as an effective wind-breaker, helping to reduce the spread of pollution and providing a protective "shield" for nearby areas. Additionally, the Betula nigra is said to help improve air quality in enclosed spaces, making it the perfect choice for indoor air filtration needs.

  • leavesOther Uses

    . 1. Basket Weaving: Betula nigra's thin and flexible bark is ideal for weaving into baskets. 2. Artwork: Betula nigra's bark can be used to make intricate pieces of artwork. 3. Construction: Betula nigra's bark and wood are used in building small structures, such as cabins, sheds, and play houses. 4. Clothing: Betula nigra's bark fibers can be spun into cloth, and used to make traditional clothing from certain Native American tribes. 5. Tannin Extraction: Betula nigra's bark and wood can be used to extract tannin for use in leather-making. 6. Dye: Betula nigra's bark and twigs can be used to make dyes for fabrics and cloth. 7. Windbreaks: Betula nigra's wood is used to form windbreaks to protect crops, buildings, and livestock from strong winds and high snowdrifts. 8. Fire-Starting: Betula nigra's bark is naturally waterproof and can be used to help start fires during wet weather. 9. Insect Repellent: Betula nigra's bark contains natural compounds that can be used to ward off insects.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    Betula nigra, also known as the River Birch tree, is often used in Feng Shui as a symbol of wealth and abundance. To utilize the beneficent energies of this tree, it should be planted outside, ideally in the east or the southeast directions of a house or garden. To further amplify the wealth-drawing energy of the tree, it should be surrounded by wind chimes and colorful art pieces. Furthermore, a plentiful supply of water should be kept around the trunk of the tree, since water is a symbol of wealth.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    Betula nigra, or black birch, most closely fits the sign of Libra because Libra is associated with balance, creativity, and intuition. Libra values beauty and seeks harmony in their lives, and Betula nigra--a graceful, resilient tree that can withstand many elements - embodies these qualities. In addition, the black birch is efficient at filtering air and cleaning the environment, which aligns with Libra's sensibilities of working to boost the quality of their surroundings.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    Betula nigra, commonly known as River Birch, is a species of birch native to the southeastern United States. The tree is a symbol of resilience and strength. Its bark is often covered in lichen and moss, which hint at its ability to endure in a wide variety of conditions. Not only is it tolerant of wet soils, but it also exhibits high levels of drought tolerance. It is often harvested for its sap, which is boiled to make syrup, and its wood is popular among furniture and craft makers. River Birch stands are said to protect against flooding. Its lovely peeling white bark is said to resemble the rocky gates of rivers and streams, which kept the waters at bay. As a result, this hardy tree has been adopted as a symbol of protection with its strong roots, sturdy branches, and protective bark.

  • water dropWater

    for the plant Betula nigra, or Black Birch, should be watered regularly, particularly in the first year of growth or during dry spells. During the growing season (Spring to Autumn) the tree should be watered deeply, meaning the soil should reach a depth of 8-12 inches, every few weeks. In extremely dry climates, the tree should be watered once a week. In the winter, Betula nigra should be watered less often, only when the soil is dry. When watering Betula nigra, the soil should receive a deep, slow-running trickle of water, aiming the water at the base of the tree near the trunk. About 10 gallons of water should be applied per tree at each watering. Once the water has been applied, the soil should be gently scraped to create a slight mound around the trunk. This will aid in retaining moisture in the soil and help protect the tree from drought.

  • sunLight

    for the plant. Betula nigra does best in full sun to partial shade, with some morning sun and afternoon shade. It prefers to grow in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny spot of the garden with some protection from strong winds.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The best lighting conditions for Betula nigra are full sun to part shade. It prefers bright, indirect light in hot, sunny climates and shade in cold climates. The best summer temperature conditions for this plant are 70-90°F and the best winter temperature conditions are 40-55°F.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Betula nigra should be done in late winter when the plant is dormant. Pruning will help to maintain health and promote better shape, it should be done by removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches first. After these have been removed, any branches that are rubbing against each other, crossing over or growing in an unnatural direction should be cut off. It is also recommended to prune back any long whips in order to encourage branch formation. Pruning should be done conservatively, as Betula nigra has sensitive bark and too much pruning can result in damage that affects the overall health of the plant.

  • bambooSoil

    ution The best soil mix for Betula nigra is a mix of sandy loam soil and compost, with a pH of 6-6.5. This mix should consist of 3 parts sandy loam and 1 part mature compost by volume. This mix should offer good drainage, allowing excess moisture to filter quickly away from the plant's roots. The compost will provide nutrients for the tree, while the loam will act as the primary structural component. Additionally, the coarse nature of sandy loam will provide great aeration, helping to ensure the Betula nigra's roots have access to plenty of oxygen.

  • plantRepotting

    Betula nigra does not need to be repotted regularly, as it generally does not require frequent division.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    The best humidity conditions for Betula nigra are between 40-50%. To increase this humidity level, mist leaves with a water-filled sprayer or place a humidifier in the room. To decrease the humidity, open windows or place a dehumidifier in the room.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Betula nigra prefers cool temperatures ranging from 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with relative humidity of 40-60%. The plant should be placed near a window with diffused or indirect light exposure for 2-4 hours each day. It should also be watered regularly, allowing the top layer of soil to dry out between waterings. The soil should be moist, but not soggy. Betula nigra should be potted in a slightly acidic soil mix, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 and have adequate drainage. The pot should be wide and shallow and should not exceed 12 inches (30 cm) in height.

    • Outdoor

      Betula nigra, or River Birch, grows best in moist, acidic soils and temperatures of between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers full sun to light shade, and can tolerate occasional flooding. River Birch is a fast-growing tree, and can reach heights of up to 60 feet with a spread of 40 feet.

  • circleLife cycle

    Betula nigra, also known as the River Birch, is a deciduous, long-lived tree native to North America. It requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil, and can be found in wet bottomlands and along streams and rivers. It can reach up to 65 feet tall and spread up to 50 feet wide. Seeding Stage: Betula nigra produces small, ovoid, dark brown nutlets in clusters, called catkins, during summer which soon turn into winged samaras (seeds). The samaras have wings with a single seed inside, that spin away in the wind, letting the tree spread itself farther. Seedling/Sapling Stage: A River Birch seedling is usually around 4 to 8 inches in height and has reddish-brown bark with a white, waxy coating. The bark begins to form once the sapling is about 15 feet tall. Maturity Stage: Once the tree reaches maturity, it grows to a height of 65 feet and a spread of up to 50 feet. Its reddish-brown bark is rough and scaly. The leaves are alternate and are up to 2.5 inches long. They are dark green and shiny above, and lighter underneath. The flowers form small green catkins about 1 inch in length and appear in late spring. Fruiting/Flowering Stage: As autumn arrives, the leaves of the tree begin to turn yellow, orange and brown, and fruit in the form of clusters of nutlets appear. The nutlets are small, dark brown drupes that contain the tree’s single seed. Once the seed is released and spread by the wind, the tree begins to go dormant and prepare for winter. Winter Stage: The river birch is considered a winter hardy species and can survive temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the tree may lose its leaves and become completely dormant during the winter, the root system is capable of surviving in both frozen and thawed soils.

  • sproutPropogation

    • . Propagation of Betula nigra typically occurs through seeds, cuttings, or division. Seeds: Seeds may take up to one year to sprout and should be planted in early spring. For best germination, the seeds should be stratified by chilling them in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks prior to planting. Plant the seeds 1/4-1/2 inch deep in light, moist, well-draining soil. Seeds should be kept in a cool and moist location until germination occurs, typically in late spring or early summer. Cuttings: Cuttings can be taken from semi-hard wood and placed in soil to root. Cuttings should be taken between late spring and early summer and should be no more than four inches long. They should be planted about 1/4 inch deep in moist, well-draining soil. Cuttings should be kept in a cool, sunny location and could require several months to become established. Division: Division is used to propagate large patches of plants. This is typically done in late fall or early spring when the plant is actively growing. Carefully dig up the plant, separate it into several clumps and plant them in separate pots or another location in well-draining soil. Keep moist and in a cool, sunny location. The divisions should become established within a few months.