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River Birch

Conservation & Science Gardens

Scientific Name: Betula nigra

Order: Fagales

Family: Betulaceae

Type: Tree

Endangered Status: Least concern

Number of Recorded Individuals at the Zoo: 19

River birch can grow either as a single stem or multi-stem tree and has peeling, salmon-colored bark that provides habitat for insects and foraging birds. In early spring, the tree is ornamented with showy catkin flowers before the green diamond-shaped leaves emerge for summer and then turn yellow in the fall. This birch can grow in either full sun or partial shade but prefers moist locales. Its unique features allow it to stand out as a single specimen tree or as a group. The river birch is a pioneer tree, helping to re-establish growth in disturbed areas near water. Its palatable bark and multi-stemmed trunk make this species a favorite for beavers building their dams, as well as a browse favorite for the animals at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Native Range
Eastern United States

USDA Hardiness Zone

Average Mature Height
55 feet

Flower Color

Flowering Months

Birds and small mammals

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