Sweet Birch, Cherry Birch
- Broadleaf deciduous tree, to 75 ft (23 m) tall in its habitat, but probably only 50 ft (15 m) in
cultivation, with a spread of about 40 ft (13 m), pyramidal and dense when young, when mature rounded and
irregular. Bark light reddish brown to almost black, strong wintergreen odor or flavor [origin
of the sweet birch common name}, when older, brown-black in large, irregular, scaly plates. Leaves simple, alternate, ovate to ovate-oblong,
5-15 cm long and 4-9 cm wide, tip acuminate, base mostly cordate (heart-shaped), margin serrate, often
doubly so, upper surface glossy dark green, paler green below and pubescent on veins, 10-13 pairs of veins;
petiole 1.3-2.5 cm long. Male catkins in winter 5-7.5 cm long, then pendulous and expanded in
summer to 7.5-10 cm long, female flowers in upright catkins 1.7-2.5 cm long.
- Sun. Best in moist well-drained soil, but tolerates drier soils than most birches.
Some think its yellow-gold leaf color in fall make if the best birch for color in autumn.
Reportedly resistant to the bronze birch borer and the birch leaf miner.
- Hardy to USDA Zone (3) 4 Native range extends from Maine to southern Ontario, south
to Ohio and Alabama.
- Sweet Birch: the wintergreen odor or flavor is apparently the origin of the sweet birch common name.
- Cherry Birch: from its cherry-like bark, i.e., dark reddish brown with prominent horizontal lenticels,
similar to the bark of the wild black cherry, Prunus serotina.
- lenta: tough but pliant.
- Closely related to and resembles B. alleghaniensis , Yellow Birch, some contrasting features are
given below (Farrar, 1995). I don't know how accurate or useful they are; any comments?:
|| B. alleghaniensis Yellow Birch
|| B. lenta Sweet Birch
|| frequently over 65 ft (20 m)
|| seldom reaching 65ft (20 m)
|| mostly hairy, pressed against twig
|| mostly hairless, diverging from twig
| Cone scales
|| 5-7 mm long, hairy
|| 6-12 mm long, hairless
| Leaves and young twigs
| moderate wintergreen flavor
|| strong wintergreen flavor
|| reddish brown, becoming dull yellow
|| dark cherry red to blackish, then grayish