Keystone Value: The genus Betula (Birch) supports over 400 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars, providing food for a variety of birds and mammals.
River Birch is an attractive, vigorous, moisture-loving tree. Tolerating heat better than other birch species, its range extends all the way to northern Florida. While it prefers a damp environment, it can grow on higher land as well. It is often selected as an ornamental tree in the landscape for its beautiful exfoliating bark and multi-stemmed trunk. Many species of birds use it to nest and as a food source. Native Americans boiled sap from the tree to use like maple syrup, but in more recent times it was used to make birch beer.
River Birch brings exceptional wildlife value to the landscape – it hosts hundreds of species of caterpillars and moths, such as the Mourning Cloak Butterfly and the majestic Luna Moth (both pictured above). Birds will feed on the seeds of the birch tree as well as various caterpillars. Woodpeckers and Nuthatches will search the loose bark for insects. Planting river birch trees would most certainly be a helpful service to nature.