Betula nigra

Linnaeus

Sp. Pl. 2: 982. 1753.

Common names: River birch red birch
EndemicIllustrated
Synonyms: Betula rubra F. Michaux
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 3.

Trees, to 25 m; trunks often several, crowns round. Bark of mature trunks and branches grayish brown, yellowish, reddish, or creamy white, smooth, irregularly shredding and exfoliating in shaggy sheets when mature; lenticels dark, horizontally expanded. Twigs without wintergreen taste or odor, glabrous to sparsely pubescent, often with scattered, tiny, resinous glands. Leaf-blade rhombic-ovate, with 5–12 pairs of lateral-veins, 4–8 × 3–6 cm, base broadly cuneate to truncate, margins coarsely doubly serrate to dentate, apex acuminate; surfaces abaxially moderately pubescent to velutinous, especially along major veins and in vein-axils, often with scattered, minute, resinous glands. Infructescences erect, conic or nearly globose, 1.5–3 × 1–2.5 cm, shattering with fruits in late spring or early summer; scales often persistent into early winter, lobes 3, ascending, branching distal to middle, narrow, elongate, equal to somewhat unequal in length, apex acute. Samaras with wings narrower than body, usually broadest near summit, not extended beyond body apically. 2n = 28.


Phenology: Flowering late spring.
Habitat: Riverbanks and flood plains, often where land is periodically inundated
Elevation: 0–300 m

Distribution

V3 865-distribution-map.gif

Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Minn., Miss., Mo., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.

Discussion

Betula nigra is a large and characteristic floodplain tree. Like several other species of this habitat (e.g., Acer saccharinum Marshall and Ulmus americana Linnaeus), it releases its fruits in early summer; the seeds germinate immediately (at a time when the surrounding land is unlikely to be flooded). The wood of Betula nigra is not in high demand for timber because of its generally poor quality. Cultivars with freely exfoliating bark are commonly cultivated in the Northeast and Midwest.

Native Americans used Betula nigra medicinally to treat dysentery, colds, and milky urine (D. E. Moerman 1986).

Selected References

None.

Lower Taxa

None.

"unequal" is not a number."broadest" is not a number. "narrower" is not a number.

... more about "Betula nigra"
Acute (?) +  and Acuminate (?) +
John J. Furlow +
Linnaeus +
tanniferous +  and furrowed +
creamy white +, reddish +, yellowish +  and grayish brown +
exfoliating +
cuneate to truncate +  and cuneate +
2 (?) +  and 3 (?) +
slender +
staminate +  and pistillate +
solitary +  and in small racemose clusters +
ovoid +  and cylindric +
expanding +
River birch +  and red birch +
multibracteate +
Ala. +, Ark. +, Conn. +, Del. +, D.C. +, Fla. +, Ga. +, Ill. +, Ind. +, Iowa +, Kans. +, Ky. +, La. +, Md. +, Mass. +, Minn. +, Miss. +, Mo. +, N.J. +, N.Y. +, N.C. +, Ohio +, Okla. +, Pa. +, S.C. +, Tenn. +, Tex. +, Vt. +, Va. +, W.Va. +  and Wis. +
0–300 m +
pistillate +  and staminate +
expanding +
minute +  and tiny +
Riverbanks and flood plains, often where land is periodically inundated +
1.5 cm15 mm <br />0.015 m <br /> (3 cm30 mm <br />0.03 m <br />) +
summer +, early +  and spring +
globose +  and conic +
1 cm10 mm <br />0.01 m <br /> (4 cm40 mm <br />0.04 m <br />) +
1 cm10 mm <br />0.01 m <br /> (2.5 cm25 mm <br />0.025 m <br />) +
membranaceous +
10 cm100 mm <br />0.1 m <br /> (14 cm140 mm <br />0.14 m <br />) +
4 cm40 mm <br />0.04 m <br /> (8 cm80 mm <br />0.08 m <br />) +
3 cm30 mm <br />0.03 m <br /> (6 cm60 mm <br />0.06 m <br />) +
distal +  and middle +
elongate +
not obvious +  and defined +
membranaceous +
Flowering late spring. +
2(-3)-carpellate +
1-seeded +  and 2-winged +
not extended +
crowded +  and imbricate +
persistent +
(1-)3-lobed +
expanding +
not woody +  and leathery +
thicker +  and thin +
W1 +, Endemic +  and Illustrated +
2 (?) +  and 3 (?) +
nearly +  and distinct +
abaxially moderately pubescent;velutinous +
Betula rubra +
Betula nigra +
species +
excurrent +  and branching +
glabrous +  and sparsely pubescent +
differentiated +
odor +  and taste +
narrower +
tanniferous +
light +, nearly white +  and reddish-brown +
soft +  and hard +