Red Birch River Birch
=Habitat and Range.=--Along rivers, ponds, and woodlands inundated a
part of the year.
Doubtfully and indefinitely reported from Canada.
No stations in Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, or Connecticut; New
Hampshire,--found sparingly along streams in the southern part of the
state; abundant along the banks of Beaver brook, Pelham (F. W.
Batchelder); Massachusetts,--along the Merrimac river
tributaries, bordering swamps in Methuen and ponds in North Andover.
South, east of the Alleghany mountains, to Florida; west, locally
through the northern tier of states to Minnesota and along the Gulf
states to Texas; western limits, Nebraska, Kansas, Indian
territory, and Missouri.
=Habit.=--A medium-sized tree, 30-50 feet high, with a diameter at the
ground of 1-1-1/2 feet; reaching much greater dimensions southward. The
trunk, frequently beset with small, leafy, reflexed branchlets, and
often only less frayed and tattered than that of the yellow birch,
develops a light and feathery head of variable outline, with numerous
slender branches, the upper long and drooping, the reddish spray clothed
with abundant dark-green foliage.
=Bark.=--Reddish, more or less separable into layers, fraying into
shreddy, cinnamon-colored fringes; in old trees thick, dark
reddish-brown, and deeply furrowed; branches dark red or cinnamon,
giving rise to the name of red birch; season's shoots downy,
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds small, mostly appressed near the ends of
the shoots, tapering at both ends. Leaves simple, alternate, 3-4 inches
long, two-thirds as wide, dark green and smooth above, paler and
soft-downy beneath, turning bright yellow in autumn; outline
rhombic-ovate, with unequal and sharp double serratures; leafstalk short
and downy; stipules soon falling.
=Inflorescence.=--April to May. Sterile catkins usually in threes, 2-4
inches long, scales 2-3-flowered: fertile catkins bright green,
cylindrical, stalked; bracts 3-lobed, the central lobe much the longest,
=Fruit.=--June. Earliest of the birches to ripen its seed; fruiting
catkins 1-2 inches long, cylindrical, erect or spreading; bracts with
the 3 lobes nearly equal in width, spreading, the central lobe the
longest: nut ovate to obovate, ciliate.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; grows in all
soils, but prefers a station near running water; young trees grow
vigorously and become attractive objects in landscape plantations;
especially useful along river banks to bind the soil; retains its lower
branches better than the black or yellow birches. Seldom found in
nurseries, and rather hard to transplant; collected plants do fairly
3. Branch with sterile and fertile catkins.
4. Sterile flower.
5. Fertile flower.
6. Scale of fertile flower.
8. Fruiting branch.
=Betula populifolia, Marsh.=