Little King River Birch
Betula nigra 'Little King'
Description: Also known by its trade name, Fox Valley™, ‘Little King’ is a compact version of our native river birch. Introduced by King Nursery in Oswego, Ill., in 1991, this shrubby birch grows 10 to 12 feet tall and 9 to 12 feet wide, making it perfect for smaller gardens. It also can be used as a deciduous hedge. The bark features colorful patches of cream and apricot that gracefully peel, revealing hues of salmon and brown. The species grows in eastern North America in moist to wet soil, but can adapt to most soil types as long as it receives adequate moisture until it is well established. Hardy to Zone 4, it prefers full sun/partial shade.
- Type/habit: Small compact tree
- Key season and features of interest: Attractive, cinnamon brown, exfoliating bark; yellow fall foliage
- Flowering period: April – May
- Evergreen or deciduous: Deciduous
- Native? Yes
- Pollinator plant: Flowers are cross pollinated by wind
- Wildlife benefits: Moth and butterfly larvae feed on its leaves and become a food source for birds. Grouse, wild turkey and various bird species feed on its seeds. It provides bird habitat.
- Site/Condition tolerance: Heat; clay, dry or wet soils; air pollution
- Sun/Shade preference: Full sun to part shade
- Soil condition preference: Moist to wet, acidic; adaptable to wide range of soil conditions
- Resistant to birch bronze borer and leaf spot
Growth Habit: Dense, compact, broad oval form
Size (mature height and spread): 8-10’ tall by 9-12’ wide
Hardiness (USDA Zones): 4-9
Nativity: Eastern and Central US
Suggested Uses: Specimen, groupings, wet areas, rain garden
Year of award: 2007