When asked about tree species recommendations, Urban Forestry finds that people are frequently in search of a fast-growing tree for their yards. This growth rate preference can sometimes limit the range of other interesting characteristics exhibited year-round on species adapted to the Edmond area. However, Dura Heat river birch may fit the bill for a fast-growing shade tree that also provides unique aesthetic qualities.
Betula nigra ‘BNMTF’ DURA HEAT creates great interest throughout the winter months with its showy, salmon to reddish-brown bark that peels away to reveal an almost white inner layer. Once spring rolls around, Dura Heat is no slouch as it produces medium to dark green, diamond-shaped leaves that are leathery to the touch. These 1.5 to 3 inch long leaves make up the fast-growing canopy of this often multi-trunked tree and play host for butterfly larvae, for tree planters interested in supporting pollinators.. From spring to early summer, Dura Heat river birch produces a brownish to sometimes greenish catkin that attracts and becomes a food source for many birds.
Where Dura Heat shines, as the name implies, is in its heat and drought tolerance. The Dura Heat cultivar is the most heat tolerant birch, doing well during the long hot summers of Oklahoma. In addition, it also boasts tolerance of wet and dry soils, once established. As summer fades to fall, the Dura Heat river birch continues to shine as the leaves fade from their dark green into a golden yellow, before they fall to once more reveal the gorgeous bark of this river birch cultivar.
If you would like to see this magnificent tree for yourself there is one located in the Margaret Annis Boys Centennial Arboretum which is at the south end of Bickham-Rudkin Park. The tree is located in the southwest portion of the arboretum on the north side of the trail, marked with tree signage. If you are interested in having one of these trees as your own, it is currently available through this year’s Foster-A-Tree Program.