I Love Betula nigra ‘Cully’ ~ Heritage river birch

Sep 18, 2021 | Gardens

Name:  Betula nigra ‘Cully’ aka Heritage river birch

Type of Plant:  A vigorous, fast growing tall tree with beautiful bark. Hardy in Zones 4-9.

Why I Love This Plant: The bark! The bark! The peeling bark! I also love that this is an adaptable tree that is tall and narrow, with a lighter canopy than some trees. Heritage river birch is often sold as a multi-trunk tree, and I love when there are three trucks in a clump.

This tree does well in average or wet soils, and will thrive in sun or part-shade. Note that the more shade this plant is in, the taller it will grow as it reaches for the sunlight. The foliage turns yellow in the fall, so a tree with something going on all year.

‘Cully’ is resistant to bronze birch borer and the other problems that frequently kill white birches on Cape Cod.

A Word to the Wise:   Don’t you even think of planting this next to a house and then complaining that it’s “gotten out of control.” This tree grows quickly and it grows high. We’re talking 40 to 70 feet tall, so place it where it can do its thing and you can enjoy the show.

My Heritage river birch is on the edge of our property, next to an Olga Mezzit Rhododendron and with the weed-smothering Geranium macrorrhizum for “socks and shoes.”

It’s the bark! Peeling bark is a major reason to plant this tree.

In the 12 years that we’ve had this clump of Betula nigra, it’s grown from 7 feet to about 30 feet. This is a fast growing tree.



    This week you told us how to make and freeze smashed potatoes. They sound delicious, but you didn’t say whether to heat them up from the frozen state or thaw them first. Which?

    • CL Fornari

      Put them frozen on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and if you want, drizzle on olive oil. Pop in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes. You can sprinkle them with herbs or the cheese of your choice just before taking them out of the oven.


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