And this tree, the river birch, is a marvel with its heavily-peeling bark, excellent Enjoy a rest in the shade when walking the grounds! Located in our Pillsbury Shade tree collection, our river birch is quite the specimen. We recommend buying from local nurseries, as Minnesota-grown plants are already adapted to our climate and soils, require less transportation and fuel costs, and are unlikely to introduce or spread invasive species from other parts of the country. The meat of the bark is tan. He crossbred Indian crapemyrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, which has pretty flowers, with Japanese crapemyrtle, Lagerstroemia faureii, which resists powdery mildew and has a sinuous trunk character. The peeling bark reveals a contrasting color of inner bark, which leads to great winter interest. Recently introduced cultivated varieties are shorter and well suited to smaller yards. When the bark peels, the underside is brown, and the top side turns a dirty white color. They are also more borer-resistant than most birches. It does not tolerate drought, yet is suited to hot conditions. The unique beauty of the peeling bark adds character and interest to landscapes. They shed their bark like the paper birches. In most cases, there is no cause for concern. The amount of sap was less per tree, but the quality of the syrup was good. Plus, we’ll tell you about our favorite river birch at the Arboretum! She has worked in nonprofits and public gardens for over 15 years, and worked as an elementary school teacher for five years while earning her master's degree in education. Cultivated varieties of River birch for MN. The river birch is well-known for its peeling, paper-like bark. Cultivated varieties are selected for size, color, and performance in Minnesota. The Minnesota During the growing season it exhibits lustrous, medium-green leaves (silvery white underneath) and tolerates wet soils and dry summers. If you don’t like the look of the bark peelings, you can remove them once they’re completely free from the trunk. Browse and purchase gardening books by Walter Reeves, plus select titles by other authors. Though it displays iron chlorosis from high pH soil, this tree has held on for years and years. It resists damage from the. work in smaller yards, or large and majestic ones with excellent fall color. It’s called bark exfoliation. The peeling bark reveals a contrasting color of inner bark, which leads to great winter interest. If you don’t like the look of the bark peelings, you can remove them once they’re completely free from the trunk. Adaptable to sunny or shady locations, fall color can be brief, but pleasing, with yellows ranging from butter to gold. A: This is normal, desired behavior for a crapemyrtle. Q: The bark is splitting and falling off our three-year-old crepe myrtle tree. Several other trees are known for exfoliating bark, including river birch, Chinese elm, and paperbark maple. Erin earned her bachelor's degree in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota. In soils with high pH due to limestone, clay, or poor drainage, iron chlorosis causes the leaves to become a chartreuse color. Landscape Arboretum is all about trees. Fox Valley® — glossy green foliage, compact oval growth habit, 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide at maturity, Heritage® — glossy green foliage, oval growth habit, 50 feet tall and 35 feet wide at maturity, 'Shiloh Splash' — green with white-edged leaves, pyramidal upright growth habit, 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide at maturity, 'Summer Cascade' — green foliage, cascading growth habit, 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide at maturity. Plant breeders are finding new varieties to The nectar also attracts eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds. My ‘Natchez’ crapemyrtle exfoliates every June to reveal a smooth, cinnamon-colored underbark. For landscape uses, the river birch makes a beautiful specimen. The cinnamon-colored, exfoliating bark of the river birch is awesome in appearance during the winter months (fall leaf color is golden yellow). As such, this species prefers soils on the acidic side, and has been planted on former mining sites in reclamation efforts. Author: Erin Buchholz, Integrated Pest Management Specialist, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The trees' peeling bark is as attractive as the fall foliage. As its common name implies, river birch prefers moist soils, and is commonly found along stream banks or areas prone to occasional flooding. This species is a must for bird, butterfly, and moth enthusiasts. Once mature, the shade provided is plentiful, as the species typically reaches 40 to 70 feet in height, with a spread of 40 to 60 feet. Mourning cloak butterfly caterpillars feed on the foliage, as do luna and cecropia moth caterpillars. She has returned to her love of connecting people to plants as the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Specialist at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. too, can be affected if the bark is penetrated. Grown in single-stem or clump forms, it is native from Minnesota to Florida. Our guest writer for this series is Erin Buchholz from the Arboretum. Combining horticulture with education, she teaches staff and visitors how to use IPM to keep plants (and people) healthy. © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. Though the leaves are a lighter chartreuse color, it has held on and seems proud of its unique look. Recently, horticulturists at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum collected birch sap at the same time as sugar maples. Height: 40-70 feet tall, smaller cultivars available, Width: 40-60 feet, smaller cultivars available, Ivory, tan and cinnamon-colored peeling bark, Male flowers: hanging catkins, 2 to 4 inches long, Female flowers: erect catkins, 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long, Leaves: bright green and shiny in spring and summer, yellow shades in the fall, Moist to wet soils, tolerates poor drainage and some compaction. In 2020, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum celebrates the “Season of Trees: Returning to our Roots” which will highlight the beauty and benefits of trees in our communities. In high pH soils, leaves become chlorotic, and trees can eventually die without the supplemental addition of sulfur or iron. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. It is understandable why people would become concerned when they see the bark peeling from the birch trees they have so lovingly cared for. What can I do? In early spring, sap flows from birch similar to maples. River birch trees tolerate the summer heat better than paper birch trees, meaning they are better suited to grow in warmer regions. ©2020 Walter Reeves / The Simple Gardener, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Several songbirds feed on seeds, and some birds use the canopy cover for nesting. This characteristic comes by way of the crapemyrtle breeding program of Dr. Don Egolf. wildlife value, and land conservation importance. Male catkins form in the fall (photo above), River birch is often considered the toughest of all birch. There is no maintenance in removing the bark of the tree. River birch (Betula nigra), sometimes called black birch, water birch, or red birch, is a medium or fast growing tree best known for its peeling bark which exhibits shades of orange, red, gray, or cream blended with brown. Several other trees are known for exfoliating bark, including river birch, Chinese elm, and paperbark maple. 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