Betula nigra L.
Common Name: RIVER BIRCH
Coefficient of Conservatism: 5
Coefficient of Wetness: 3
Wetness Index: FACW
Physiognomy: Nt Tree

Shores of streams, lakes, or ponds, usually in sandy soils.

Betula nigra is unique amoung our birches in being distributed primarilly south of Michigan. This attractive species is a well-known native up to northernmost Indiana, very near to Michigan, and has long been reported, without specimens, from Berrien Co., including reliable sightings along the Galien River in Warren Woods State Park. It is also extensively cultivated in Michigan, but has thus far never been recorded as spreading from planted trees. The first apparently wild Michigan collection was from a wetland in extreme southwest Berrien Co. in 2019, when a small colony of young plants were seen in a sandy, open, older drawdown shoreline. Of course, its discovery this late in the history of plant exploration in Michigan does raise issues of whether this occurrence is natural or possibly spread into an appropriate habitat from cultivated trees in the vicinity – or conceivably even planted by people “helping” with conservation. 

The leaves of this species are distinctive, but hard to describe. They are hairier than Betula papyrifera, and clearly cuneate to the base from the widest point with the double toothing starting at the widest point of the leaf.


Berrien County


MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. June 26, 2022.