The height and circumference measurements listed here are for the largest-known river birch in the City of Atlanta. This tree is located in Atlanta Memorial Park.
This tree loves water, hence its name. It grows best near water or poorly drained sites. The tree grows quickly, often with multiple trunks. It is a popular landscape tree because it can tolerate soggy soil and it has showy bark.
The bark is flaky when the tree grows to ten inches in diameter. Then the bark gets harder and forms in plates, much like a white oak. The bark ranges in color from deep red cinnamon to creamy ivory. Some people confuse this tree for a paper bark birch because of its paper thin flakes.
The wood is hard but it has no commercial value. The settlers once used the wood for ox yokes and wooden shoes.
These trees are fast growing and get overpowering in size if they are planted in the wrong place, like next to the house.
The tree drops lots of small twigs.
This tree is important in controlling erosion on river banks. It does well when the rivers flood. The tree is releasing its seeds around flood time, and the seeds are carried a far distance before germinating in the mud.
Trees: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Bark: Steven J. Baskauf, Vanderbilt University Bioimages
Leaves: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
Flowers: Steven J. Baskauf, Vanderbilt University Bioimages
Seeds: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), Bugwood.org