BRUNS plant of the month – February

Betula nigra – Black Birch – River Birch – Betulaceae – Birch Family

The distribution area of the black birch is in eastern North America on moist soils in lakes, riverbanks, and in swamps. The growth of black birch is funnel-like with picturesque sprawling main branches which continue to grow steeply upright. With age, the branches hang over slightly.

In winter months, the black birch has no foliage. During this period, the tree show off its picturesque light reddish-brown to silvery grey bark which can become dark brown with age. In addition, the bark exfoliates into curly paper sheets rolls, as is common with this species, and retains the plant’s ornamental characteristics. The foliage in autumn is characterised by a bright yellow, cheerful colour that rings in the winter season.

The root system of the black birch is shallow - or created heart-shaped and has many fine roots in the topsoil, thus the black birch is one of the pioneer species. Despite its preference for moist locations, the tree grows on almost all soils. In addition, it can withstand temporary flooding and is also very hardy.

In North America, the black birch is especially considered a valuable bank protection in the Mississippi region. In Louisiana it is a very popular avenue tree thanks to its arched, overhanging side branches which reflect the typical avenue.

Due to the distinctive growth and stature as well as the decorative and attractive bark, the black birch is a very beautiful and highly recommended birch suitable as a solitary element or planted together in a group in humid to moderately dry gardens and parks.