River birch is used mainly for local enterprises such as the manufacture of inexpensive furniture, basket hoops, and turned articles. Experiments in North Carolina did not indicate that it is desirable for commercial pulpwood production, but naturally occurring merchantable-sized trees are often harvested for pulpwood when mixed with other bottomland hardwoods. Strength of the wood makes it suitable for the manufacture of artificial limbs and children's toys. As the wood weighs about 560 kg/m³ (35 lb/ft³), it is somewhat lighter than commercially important birches (3). Because of its tolerance to acid soils, river birch has been used successfully in strip mine reclamation. It has also been used in erosion control (13). Its graceful form, attractive bark, and high resistance to the bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius) make it desirable for ornamental planting, especially in the Northeastern and Midwestern States. Young bark varies in color from silvery gray to light reddish brown or cinnamon colored and is lustrous with darker, narrow, longitudinal lenticels. Bark on fast-growing young trees may peel into papery strips. On older trees, bark on branches may be gray, smooth, and shiny; on the main trunk it may vary from dark reddish brown to gray or almost black with inch-thick irregular scales (fig. 3). Seeds are sometimes eaten by birds and the foliage is browsed by white-tailed deer (15).
- Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp. http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm
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