EDDIE SEAGLE: River birch is a popular ornamental tree | Lifestyles


“There can be no wisdom without freedom of thought – and no public freedom without freedom of expression.” Benjamin Franklin. “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid for it. And one way we will never choose, and that is the way of surrender or submission. ”John F. Kennedy. “The freedoms of a people were and will never be secure if the business of their rulers can be hidden from them.” Patrick Heinrich.

June goes by so quickly and July will be there in a few days. Now is a good time to look into trees and learn how they are used effectively in our landscapes. Such preparation will allow you to make informed decisions.

Native to the eastern and southern United States, the river birch (Betula nigra or water birch) is a deciduous tree that is common in the floodplain and wetland areas. The bark of the river birch is very distinctive, which makes it a preferred ornamental tree for landscape use. Its bark is usually dark gray-brown to pink-brown and scaly. And in some situations it appears smooth and creamy-pink-white with peeling-curled sheets of paper. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins, with the male hanging and the female standing upright. The fruit ripens in late spring and consists of numerous tiny winged seeds located between the kitten bracts.

The river birch is known for its flaky, paper-like bark. The cinnamon-colored, peeling bark of the river birch looks fantastic in the winter months (autumn leaf color is golden yellow). During the growing season it shows glossy, medium green leaves (below silvery white) and tolerates moist soils and dry summers. It does not tolerate shade and prefers slightly acidic to neutral and moist soil conditions. The river birch is the most common birch in our area, as most birch species prefer the cooler climate in the north. It is a fast growing tree, but its lifespan is short compared to most trees.

The bark of the river birch varies according to age, as young trees have a silvery-gray bark with light red-brown spots and the older trees have a dark red-brown bark (almost black). It has two different flowers, with the male flowers growing in autumn, staying on the tree all winter, and producing pollen in early spring. The female flowers grow in spring and turn into fruits (cones filled with hairy seeds) in May and June after pollination and are spread by wind and water. The ripening of the seeds coincides with the high water level of rivers (its natural environment), which means that the seeds can be carried by the water for long stretches. The seed germinates quickly in the mud, allowing it to grow in areas where it prevents erosion.

In such natural settings, the river birch usually grows near water and is often found on sandbanks, islands in creeks, creek banks, lake banks, and floodplains. Other trees that grow in nature near the river birch include American sycamore maple, red maple, silver maple, black willow, American hornbeam, yellow poplar, blackgum, black cherry, American elm, sugar maple, boxelder, spotthickory, American beech, Ash, amber and pineiche.

The river birch is one of the most famous and beautiful trees in the landscape. It constantly sheds its bark, which falls under the tree as useful mulch, preventing aggressive competition from weeds and other unwanted plants. It is much more resilient and heat tolerant than the white paper birch and is very popular for landscaping on estates, golf courses, metropolitan areas, small business locations, recreation areas, parks and homes. The river birch is a very popular turf tree that thrives in hot, humid locations and has the attractive peeling bark. As one of the fastest growing and standout shade trees, it can provide energy savings through temperature control, thus lowering your electricity bill as an added bonus.

The river birch can be purchased as a multi-stemmed shade tree, although the single-stemmed specimens are most preferred. It can be used as an umbrella or shade tree and as a street tree with irrigation. They are attractive when planted in groups, especially against a dark background. Due to its shallow root system, the river birch is easy to transplant. It should be pruned during the summer to minimize excessive bleeding of the sap that can result from spring pruning.

Varieties include Cully (a broad pyramid with a lighter bark than the species and large, glossy green leaves that offer good resistance to bronze birch moth) and Heritage (a heat tolerant, highly adaptable variety with larger, shinier leaves). The Royal Horticultural Society refers to Cully as Heritage and is sold under the Heritage name, although many refer to it as a variety in its own right.

Heritage received a gold medal from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society in 1990 and was named 2002 Tree of the Year by the Urban Arborist Society. Heritage’s bark is whiter than any birch that is resistant to bronze birch burs. Heritage offers many positive properties, including tolerance to cold in northern environments and tolerance to the heat of southern environments.

Other varieties are City Slicker (peeling bark shows creamy white inner bark), Duraheat (shiny dark green, closely spaced leaves with a yellow autumn color, resistant to aphids and flaking bark at an early age), Fox Valley (a dense, compact, oval to rounded growth with up to Branches and dense foliage), Royal Frost (burgundy-red to purple foliage, followed by yellow-orange to red autumn colors with white inner bark), Shiloh Splash (colored leaves with green foliage, creamy white bordered) and Suwanee (shiny dark green leaves with salmon-white peeling bark ). In addition, Heritage and Duraheat are considered to be tolerant of the bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius) in warmer areas of the southeast. Avoid selections that have growth patterns that are inconsistent with the species, including variegated leaves and weeping growth habits.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “the plans to prosper you and not harm you, which give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Should there be unrest or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than victorious through those who loved us. ”Romans 8: 35-37. This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and see; Ask about the old paths, ask where the good way is and walk on it, and you will find rest for your soul. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ ”Jeremiah 6:16.

Eddie Seagle is Sustainability Verifier, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) ) and short-term missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to [email protected]

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