The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently crowned a new state champion river birch tree in Howard County.
MDC Forester A.J. Campbell presented the Missouri Champion Tree plaque to Andrew Robinson, who nominated the tree, and Larry and Brenda Potterfield, who own the land where the tree stands on private property near Moniteau Creek in Howard County.
River birch (Betula nigra) is a typically medium-sized tree with a broad, irregular, spreading crown. Its distinctive reddish-gray, peeling, papery skin turns to a thicker, solid, protective bark as the tree reaches maturity.
A pioneer species, river birch rapidly colonizes exposed streambanks and gravel bars, stabilizing the soil and developing a forest for other trees to succeed.