If you are hiker or just love to get out in nature, you can find this deciduous tree in floodplains, swampy bottomlands and along streams. Last year we were on a hike with some Master Gardeners friends and to our amazement we saw some of the largest River Birch trees ever. The were growing along a stream here in Cobb County and they it was such a treat to see them thriving in their native habitat. They grow quickly and can reach over 50 feet tall in the right conditions.
The Cherokee used this tree in many ways. They chewed the leaves to alleviate dysentery and to treat colds. A tea was made to treat difficult urination. In the spring the sap can be collected and turned into syrup.
The River Birch has many desirable qualities. It has a light pink to brown bark that exfoliates to show a lighter smoother bark. It add accent to any garden because of it appearance and it is deer tolerant. It is more disease resistant than other birches and it work well in an urban environment.
It blooms in April and May and the brown blooms are male and the green flowers are female.