Betula nigra, commonly known as river birch, is a deciduous tree native to the eastern United States. It belongs to the Betulaceae family and can grow up to 80 feet tall with a spread of up to 60 feet.
The tree has a distinctive reddish-brown bark that peels off in thin, papery strips, revealing a lighter-colored inner bark. The leaves are ovate, doubly serrate, and up to 4 inches long. They are dark green in summer, turning yellow in the fall.
River birch is a fast-growing tree that prefers moist, well-drained soil, making it a common sight along riverbanks, floodplains, and other wetland areas. It is also tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including clay, sand, and loam.
The tree produces small, cylindrical fruiting structures called catkins, which contain both male and female flowers. The female flowers develop into small, winged nutlets that are dispersed by the wind.
River birch is often used as an ornamental tree in landscaping due to its attractive bark and foliage. It is also valued for its tolerance to wet soil conditions and ability to stabilize streambanks and prevent erosion.
In addition, the tree has a number of traditional medicinal uses. The bark has been used to treat fevers, diarrhea, and dysentery, and the leaves and twigs have been used to make teas for a variety of ailments.