River birch

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Betula nigra
RIVER BIRCH

Betulaceae
E. North America

Location: map coordinates S-9 (southwest corner of Ag Annex Building), N 39°11'8'' W 75°32'46'';
and Z-17 (on Loop Road, west of DSU rear entrance gate), N 39°11'2'' W 75°32'41''

Planting history: S-9: planted with construction of Ag Annex, Human Ecology building, ca 2009.
Z-17: planting history presently unknown.

Description:
  • medium-sized deciduous tree
  • etymology: Betula = latin name; nigra = black (the bark)
  • leaves simple, alternate, toothed (doubly serrate)
  • monoecious (separate male and female flowers on the same plant); flowers small, in catkins
  • fruit small, ovoid, winged (samara); mature late spring (unlike other birches, which generally fruit in autumn)
  • bark papery and pinkish (on young trees)
  • ornamental tree; form graceful, bark attractive; grows to ca 70 feet; highly resistant to bronze birch borer
  • wood used to make artificial limbs, and children’s toys
  • natural habitat is wet soil, stream banks; tolerates drier soils but then tends to be short-lived (30-40 years)
  • southern tree, mainly; may be the most heat tolerant of the birches

Native species, State Rank S5 (very common in Delaware)
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