Featured Native: River Birch (Betula nigra)

Betula nigra, or river birch, is a fast-growing shade and ornamental tree. Indigenous to the eastern United States, from coastal New Hampshire west to Minnesota and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida, river birch prefers swampy areas, bottomlands and stream banks in its native range. It can grow as a single-stemmed specimen or as a multi-trunked clump. Pyramidal in form when young, it develops a rounded irregular crown when mature, topping out at 40 to 70 feet in height.

River birch provides year-round interest in the landscape; bright green spring growth matures to 2-3” long leathery, dark green, diamond-shaped, toothed leaves which often turn brilliant yellow in the autumn. Its peeling pinkish-brown to black-brown bark exfoliates to reveal shades of peach and cream. Short green and brown catkins appear in spring as well.

Although river birch prefers moist environments in the wild, it is tolerant of drier conditions when established and is relatively free of the pests and diseases that affect non-native Betula species. It also performs well in urban environments. It can exhibit chlorosis in alkaline soils, but this can be corrected by applications of chelated iron or other products to lower soil pH. It is an excellent choice for streambank and wetlands restoration projects.

Betula nigra sap was used by Native Americans and early settlers as a sweetener, similar to maple sap. Because of this heavy sap flow, pruning should be avoided in the late winter and early spring.

White House Natives sells 3- and 5-stem Betula nigra in sizes from 8 ft to 14 ft and single-stem specimens from 2” to 4” caliper. We stake and prune our trees for even branching and limb them up from two to four feet depending on size to show off their exfoliating bark. Many good cultivars are sold by other nurseries in the trade, but WHN focuses on growing the straight species.



Digging Begins! 27th October 2018

Despite the occasional rain, digging is now underway for fall 2018!  If you haven’t placed your orders yet, do it now.  Inventory is selling through quickly!

SVNGA Tour, 3rd October 2018

White House Natives was honored to co-host the Shenandoah Valley Nursery and Greenhouse Association (SVNGA) tour on October 3rd, 2018. We were able to show off our nursery for the second time in four years.  Attendees got a first-hand look at our liners just planted in September of this year, as seen in the pictures.  We also took them on a ride around the nursery to let them see crops of larger size material from 2-3.5” caliper that is ready for harvest this fall and next spring.  There was a lot of interest in the fiberglass stakes we use to train our trees, drip irrigation to keep them watered, cover crops used to build up our soil fertility, observations and results of our extensive pruning, along with planting and harvesting techniques.

Around the Farm, 22d September 2018

Growth is hardening off and we’ve done our final inventory counts and pricing for the fall.  See the availability here.  We’ve got some beautiful material available for you for fall 2018 and spring 2019!

Arlington County Tree Stewards Visit the Farm, 9th August 2018

On 9th August 2018, a group of tree stewards from Arlington County visited White Hiouse Natives along with a Fairfax arborist, and two reps from Davey Tree.  The were accompanied by John Biche from South Riding Nurseries and WHN’s Eric Sours.  They tagged over two hundred 1¾-2” caliper trees for fall 2018 installation.  This is the second year in a row that the Arlington tree stewards have come to WHN to inspect and select each tree.  This process insures that Arlington County receives the exact trees they want and helps to build synergy between all stakeholders; client, grower and installer.

Above the Farm, 7th August 2018

Some great overviews of the nursery with the fog and mist off the Shenandoah River on the mornings of 6 and 7 August 2018.

Around the Farm, 5th August 2018

The abundant rains this year have kept our crops growing strong.  Take a look!

Around the Farm, 26th May 2018

Some photos of our rapidly-growing stock with this year’s great spring weather and abundant rains.