By Hans Hansen
Native bounty Texan’s don’t hear much about. River Birch is a handsome multifunction all-zone permaculture tree that deserves more attention. Farmers in northern regions tap both Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), and from several species of Birch. Birch beer quenched the thirst of early settlers and can be made from our native River Birch, the only birch found in Texas. It has been used as a medicinal and provides food for wildlife as well.
It can be seen growing along steam edges, flood plains of SE Texas and planted as a multi-trunk landscape tree. I’ve seen it in just about every major Texas city I’ve visited. The River Birch-Sycamore assemblage is classic. River Birch appreciates a place of its own in full sun but is often seen with other birch or tree species along a sunny stream, pond or wood edge. For guild companions, think flood plain understory species such as Rough Leaf Dogwood, Palmetto, Native Spider Lily, River Fern, Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) and native Violet.