Betula nigra 'City Slicker'
The River Birch, or Betula nigra, is a reliable, vigorous performer and one of the most adaptable and trouble-free members of the genus Birch. The River Birch 'City Slicker' cultivar (Betula Nigra 'City Slicker') has lighter bark and improved resistance to urban conditions.
River Birch is native to stream banks in the eastern deciduous forest. In the wild, it usually grows with multiple stems; however, single-stem specimens are less susceptible to breakage when mature. The cream-colored bark of the young tree ages to a pleasing scaly-salmon color. Often planted without enough consideration for its rapid growth and potential large size, this tree usually reaches 50’ in height with a 40’ spread. Fall color is a respectable yellow. River Birch 'Dura-Heat' is resistant to Bronze Birch Borer and Birch Leaf Miner, but it may become chlorotic in high pH soils.
One of my favorite companion plants for this tree is the Sweetbay, especially the 'Moonglow' cultivar. The glossy, broad-leaf, semi-evergreen leaves of the Sweetbay enhance the year-round appeal of the River Birch bark. Plant shrubs with red and/or orange fall color beneath the River Birch to accent the bark and the fall shades. For a backdrop, use dark green conifers such as Oriental Spruce and Nordmann Fir.
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