Betula alleghaniensis

Common Names: Yellow birch, golden birch
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Birches

A species of birch native to eastern North America. Yellow birch is also commonly used to making toothpicks. It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 m tall (exceptionally to 30 m) with a trunk up to 80 cm diameter. The bark is smooth, yellow-bronze, flaking in fine horizontal strips, and often with small black marks and scars. The twigs, when scraped, have a slight scent of oil of wintergreen. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 6 to 12 cm long and 4 to 9 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, mature in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

Found in mixed and deciduous forests, residential areas.

Edible Notes: The roots and stems of yellow birch smell and taste of wintergreen. Look for birch beer or birch soda in your local supermarket or gourmet food store. While the flavoring is usually artificial, it is a good, close approximation.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.