Betula nigra 'Little King' FOX VALLEY

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Common Name: river birch
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Betulaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 9.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Brown (male) and green (female)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil, Wet Soil, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. River birches are perhaps the most culturally adaptable and heat tolerant of the birches. Prefers moist, acidic, fertile soils, including semi-aquatic conditions, but also tolerates drier soils. Adapts well to heavy clay soils and will tolerate poor drainage. Avoid pruning in spring when the sap is running.

Noteworthy Characteristics

This river birch cultivar is a dense, compact, deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub with an irregular crown which typically grows to only 10' tall with a 12' spread. This cultivar 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. Flowers are contained in drooping, brownish male catkins (2-3" long) and insignificant, smaller, upright, greenish female catkins, both of which appear in spring on the same tree.


One of the most disease-free birches. 'Fox Valley' is extremely resistant to the bronze birch borer and also has good resistance to leaf spot diseases. It has some susceptibility to aphids and leaf miner and to iron chlorosis in high pH soils, but these are somewhat minor problems in comparison to the birch borer.

Garden Uses

Best when planted in small groupings in lawns or shrub borders, or in damp areas along ponds or streams or in low spots. Frequently planted with a dark foliage or shady background. An excellent choice for hot and humid summer climates in USDA Zones 5 to 9, including the St. Louis area.