River birch is a vigorous, fast-growing, medium-sized, Missouri native deciduous tree which occurs on floodplains, swampy bottomlands and along streams throughout the State.
In cultivation, it can be trained as either a single trunk or multi-trunked tree. As a single trunk tree, it develops a pyramidal habit when young, but matures to a more rounded shape typically growing 40-70′ tall. Multi-trunked trees form a more irregular crown and are generally considered to be the superior growth habit for this species.
Salmon-pink to reddish brown bark exfoliates to reveal lighter inner bark. Leathery, diamond-shaped, medium to dark green leaves (1.5-3.5″ long) with doubly toothed margins turn yellow in fall. Monoecious flowers appear in drooping, brownish male catkins and smaller, upright, greenish female catkins.
River Birch prefers full sun to part shade and medium to wet soil. It is a low maintenance tree with good winter interest and a showy flower suitable for shade and rain gardens. This tree tolerates deer, drought, clay and wet soils as well as pollution.