The river birch tree, as the name suggests, is a well-known plant found along the banks of the river and in the wet parts of the garden. These trees are mostly found in the South Eastern United States and they are mostly seen on the riversides with drained inadequate soil. A widely growing tree, the river birch plant is deciduous and is recognized as a semi-aquatic plant. The river birch tree is also called a landscape tree due to its rich varying colors and drooping branches. Belonging to the family of Betulaceae, these trees are hard in nature. Another name of the Betulaceae family is known as Birch or Alder family. The river birch tree can also be called by its common names such as the black birch, the water birch, and the river birch. Its scientific name is Betula nigra.
Scientific Classification of the River Birch Tree
The kingdom of the river birch tree is known as Plantae and the sub-kingdom of this plant is Tracheobionta. The superdivision to which this plant belongs is Spermatophyta and the division is called Magnoliophyta. Talking about the class and sub-class of the river birch tree, they are known as Magnoliopsida and Hamamelididae, respectively. The order of this tree is Fagales and the family to which it belongs to is referred to as Betulaceae. It comes from the genus of Betula L. and the species of this plant is Nigra.
Specifications of the River Birch Tree
- The river birch tree has a massive growth of the height of 80-100 feet.
- The canopy of this tree reaches a height of upto 40-50 feet on reaching the maturity stage.
- When the river birch tree gets matured, the diameter of the tree gets to around 50-150 centimeters.
- The river birch tree is a fast grower plant and it grows upto 34 inches in a year.
- It is believed that the bark of this tree shows a good transformation during its development stage. For an instance, the bark of the river birch turns pink to brown to grey color during its young age.
- During its early development stages, the tree has got some scales on it that often tend to curl and can be peeled off easily.
- Likewise, when the river birch turns mature, the bark of the tree also changes to red color and possesses the thickest layers of wood.
- These thin paper-like scales on the bark of this tree often shed off during its early years.
- As the tree turns older, the bark turns greatly adhesive and starts showing grooves on it.
- One main thing that distinguishes the river birch tree is that it can be found with multiple trunks. However, this tree can develop as a single stem as well.
- For the proper growth of this tree, it requires full sunlight. However, these trees can withstand excessive water also.
- Talking about the leaves of the river birch tree, they are of diamond shape and are double-toothed, and are arranged alternatively on the stem.
- The leaves of this tree are 3-6 cm broad and 4-8 cm long.
- The flowers of the river birch trees bloom out during the months of April and May.
- These flowers are produced individually in the Catkins form.
River Birch Tree Root System
River Birch has extensive roots that are non-invasive. Because the tree favors damp, wet, and clay soils, its roots do not reach deeper into the earth in need of water because it is readily abundant in the top layer. Because the River Birch is a parched tree that needs a lot of water, its roots extend out horizontally rather than vertically to collect as much water as possible. It has been observed that when the soil is dry, the River Birch tree begins to drop its leaves and eventually dies.
River Birch roots are not aggressive, therefore they pose no hazard to surrounding buildings. However, because they are particularly absorbent towards the surface, they limit plant growth around the River Birch tree’s root. Acidic, sandy loams, moist, granular, well-drained, wet, and clay soils are required by the roots. River Birch roots grow into a 4- to 8-inch deep mat-like formation at the surface of the ground in order to consume moisture from the soil. River Birch roots grow much faster and spread very quickly in order to keep up with the tree’s size.
Seeds of the River Birch Tree
In the shape of catkins, the river birch develops distinct male and female flowers. The birch’s fruit, little cones loaded with prickly seeds, is the result of fertilization. Birch seeds are eaten by wild turkeys and grouse, as well as voles and other smaller animals. Surface-plant fresh seeds from ripe needles in a sheltered spot to set up new birches from seeds. They will require both light and consistent hydration to thrive.
Growth Habitat of the River Birch Tree
Roots must develop quickly in order to double in size each year create the subsurface web necessary to sustain quick top growth. White birch roots are abundant in the area surrounding the tree, probing crevices in barriers such as cement. The tree’s vigorous roots obtain water by breaking open sewer or irrigation system gaps or joints. Birch roots are some of the most active — and damaging — tree roots on the planet.
Considerations While Cultivating a River Birch Tree
The magnificence of a birch grove can be worthwhile a little more effort. Native trees and varieties developed for the environment will not only last much longer, but they will also have effective roots: a tree fighting for survival will vigorously look for water and nutrients. A dense mulch over the root region will retain moisture and protect the shallow roots of this forest-dwelling tree, suggests the US Forest Service, in order to keep birches well distant from water and irrigation systems. The removal of turf and matting of the area around the tree decreases competing for accessible moisture.
Uses of the River Birch Tree
- Because of its beautiful fall colors, River Birch is considered an attractive tree. In the autumn, the tree’s leaves become a brilliant golden, adding charm to the gardens and street borders where it grows.
- They are utilized to reduce soil degradation, particularly in places where mining is common.
- River Birch’s wood is adaptable, making it ideal for furniture-making toys, prosthetic limbs, cutlery, woodenware, wooden shoes, basket components, staves, and petroleum.
- Vinegar and Birch Beer are made from the fluid of the River Birch tree. The fluid of the River Birch tree has been found to be consumed by a certain type of hummingbird.
- When the tree’s leaves are consumed raw, they can help with dysentery.
How to Care for Your River Birch Trees?
It may be necessary to eliminate old, diseased, damaged, or crossed branches on occasion. To avoid severe leaking from the wound, prevent cutting river birch when the sap is running in the spring. This is particularly critical in areas where the spring thawing is accompanied by a late frost, as the wounds will die. Hand pruners are ideal for removing tiny stems with a diameter of fewer than 12 inches. Remove twigs up to 3 inches in diameter with garden shears. Branches that are bigger should be cut down with a hand saw. To avoid the bark from peeling and injuring the tree, start with an undercutting on the base of the branch while using a hand saw.
Health Problems Associated with River Birch Tree
River birches are less prone to the health problems that strike other birch varieties. When maintaining these trees, however, there are a few things to keep in mind. The ideal environment for leaf spots is wet rainfall in the summer and fall. Tiny, black patches will spread fast throughout the leaves of damaged trees, causing sudden leaf drops. Although unattractive leaf spot is an annoyance for homeowners, it occurs so late in the season that it has little effect on the plant’s health. As a result, therapy for leaf spot infections isn’t usually advised. Iron chlorosis is characterized by yellow leaves with green streaks, which are induced by a high pH (or hardness) in the soil. Iron is held in alkaline soils, restricting its accessibility to plants like river birch. The problem cannot be solved by adding extra iron fertilizer; instead, the pH of the soil must be decreased to 6.5. When planting, conduct a soil pH test to determine whether your area is suitable for river birch growth. Iron chlorosis is common in river birches for use as support plants near the house. By leaking lime and calcium into the growth conditions, masonry construction can raise the pH of the soil. Because of the regular alkaline conditions, this species is not suitable for base planting.