Betula lenta

Common Names: Sweet birch, black birch, cherry birch, mahogany birch, spice birch
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Birches

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. In some older trees, the bark can (unlike most birches) develop vertical cracks into irregular scaly plates revealing rough darkish brown bark patterns. The twigs, when scraped, have a strong scent of oil of wintergreen. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 5 to 10 cm long and 4 to 8 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3 to 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.

Found in deciduous and mixed forests.

Edible Notes: Has a wintergreen flavor. The sap can be tapped in a similar fashion as maple and boiled-down to may syrup. Twigs can be used to make tea. Most birch beer and birch flavoring is now synthesized chemically. Look for birch beer or birch soda which is available in many supermarkets in Connecticut. Anything 'wintergreen' flavored, such as Lifesavers candy, will also taste very similar.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.