Betula nigra L. - River Birch

Betula nigra plant

Family - Betulaceae

Stems - No info. yet.

Betula nigra bark

Betula nigra barkClose-up of shredded bark.

Leaves - No info. yet.

Betula nigra leaf

Inflorescence - No info. yet.

Flowers - No info. yet.

Betula nigra catkinsStaminate flowers.

Betula nigra inflorescencePistillate inflorescence.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Alluvial ground along streams, gravel beds. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found throughout Missouri. It is the only representative of its genus in the state. The tree grows to over 20m tall and likes wet ground. In cultivation it can grow just about anywhere.
B. nigra has the typical shredding bark of most birches but its bark is a reddish-brown color as compared to the white or yellow of other species in the genus. The bark also flakes off in much smaller pieces than in some birches so it is not as useful for a building material as some of the other species.
B. nigra is a pioneer plant along sandy river banks and typically starts forest succession in these areas. The pollen shed from the plant is also a significant source of hay fever for humans.

Photographs taken off Prairie View Rd., Platte County, MO., and in Brown Summit, NC., 2-7-03.


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