River Birch can grow 50 to 90 feet tall but is often seen 40 to 50 feet. It normally grows with a central leader and small-diameter, dark-colored lateral branches. It has a narrow, oval to pyramidal crown when young, spreading wider with age as several branches become dominant. It lacks the white trunk bark associated with other birches but is distinguished by reddish-brown bark peeling off in film-like papery curls providing interest all year round. River birch can be easily trained with one central leader or as a multi-stemmed tree. Some nurseries plant two or three trees together to form a clump, but these trunks will not fuse into one strong trunk. Should be grown more as a single-trunked specimen. Branches droop particularly when they are wet, so regular pruning in the early years will be required to remove lower branches when they are located close to areas where clearance is needed for vehicular traffic.
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Tree Campus information provided with permission of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Publication #ENH253, one of a series. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. For more information visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.