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Sweet Birch Betula lenta


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Sweet Birch, leaves
credit: TeunSpaans/CCSA

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Alternate name: Black Birch, Cherry Birch

Family: Betulaceae, Birch view all from this family

Description Native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southernmost Ontario, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 m tall with a trunk up to 60 cm diameter. In younger trees the bark is characteristic of most Birches with smooth bark and horizontal fissures. It can sometimes be mistakenly identified as a Cherry tree. In some older tree specimens the bark can (unlike most birches)develop vertical cracks into irregular scaly plates revealing rough darkish brown bark patterns. This however, does not occur in all specimens. The twigs, when scraped, have a strong scent of oil of wintergreen. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 5-10 cm long and 4-8 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3-6 cm long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit, maturing in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

Habitat Mountains.

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, Southeast, Eastern Canada.