Common Names: Black birch, river birch, water birch
It is a deciduous tree growing to 82 to 98 feet with a trunk 20 to 59 inches in diameter, often with multiple trunks. The bark is variable, usually dark gray-brown to pinkish-brown and scaly, but in some individuals, smooth and creamy pinkish-white, exfoliating in curly papery sheets. The twigs are glabrous or thinly hairy. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 1.5 to 3 inches long and 1.2 to 2.4 inches broad, with a serrated margin and five to twelve pairs of veins. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 1.2 to 2.4 inches long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit is unusual among birches in maturing in late spring; it is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.
While its native habitat is wet ground, it will grow on higher land, and its bark is quite distinctive, making it a favored ornamental tree for landscape use.