Sweet Birch
Betula lenta L. (Corylaceae)

Common Names
Sweet birch, black birch, cherry birch, mountain mahogany, river birch, spice birch.

Description
A tree that grows to 80 feet in height. Bark is dark reddish-brown, close-fissured into thick plates on old trunks. Leaves are 2 to 5 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide (widest near the base); they are also finely toothed on the edges, and rounded at the base. Bark and leaves are sweet and aromatic. Tree bears both male and female flowers in catkins or caterpillar-like spikes inch long.

Flowering Period
April to mid-May.

Habitat
Rich woods and moist, well-drained to shallow soils.

Harvest
Bark and twigs from May to late September.

Uses
The bark of this plant contains small quantities of methyl salicylate and has a pleasant aromatic flavor similar to wintergreen. The bark has been used as an astringent, antiseptic, antipyretic, and antirheumatic. The sap may be made into vinegar. Birch beer is also made from this tree.

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