Betula nigra "Little King"
This variety of river birch is a wonderful selection for the patio, container or small garden. It tops out at 10 feet.
Betula nigra 'Little King', is also sold as Fox Valley Birch. It is a dense, compact, deciduous, multi-stemmed cultivar with an irregular crown which typically grows to only 10' tall with a 12' spread. It features orangish to brownish bark which exfoliates at an early age to reveal a somewhat lighter shaded brownish inner bark. Leathery, diamond-shaped, dark green leaves (1.5-3.5" long) with doubly toothed margins turn a respectable yellow in fall.
One of the most disease-free birches. Most species of birch grow best in cool, northern climates, but do not adapt well to the hot summers of USDA Zones 5-9 and can be short-lived therein. Weakened birches become vulnerable to the bronze birch borer which typically infects and kills birches stressed by summer heat and humidity. River birches are naturally adapted to warmer climates and are extremely resistant to birch borer. Although river birches have some susceptibility to aphids, leaf miner and iron chlorosis in high pH soils, these problems are somewhat minor in comparison to the birch borer.
'Fox Valley' is extremely resistant to the bronze birch borer and also has good resistance to leaf spot diseases.
Specimen or small groupings for lawns, parks and commercial properties, and, in particular, for wet soils along ponds, streams or in low spots. A good substitute for the paper birch in the hot and humid areas of USDA Zones 5-9.