Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Sweet Birch
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Very strongly acid (4.5 – 5.0)
Strongly acid (5.1 – 5.5)
Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 7b
Plant Height: 50 to 80 feet (15-24 m)
Plant Spread: 35 to 50 feet
Leaves: Good fall color
Deciduous
Fruit: Other: brown strobiles 1 to 1.5 inches long
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Fall
Flowers: Other: yellowish catkins 1 to 2 inches long
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloom Size: 1"-2"
Flower Time: Spring
Uses: Shade Tree
Dynamic Accumulator: P (Phosphorus)
K (Potassium)
Ca (Calcium)
Wildlife Attractant: Birds
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Humidity tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Provide light
Stratify seeds: one month
Days to germinate: 14 to 28 days
Depth to plant seed: shallow
Pollinators: Wind
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Monoecious
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern
full-grown tree in autumn color

Black Birch and ToothachesBlack Birch and Toothaches
July 9, 2013

It was a tree just like any other growing in the mountains of Southeast Kentucky, but it glowed like gold in the fall mountain sunshine. I watched Aunt Bett use her pocket knife to cut a little twig from it. She rarely used her pocket knife. Usually, she just broke off what she needed. Then she began to chew on the cut end of the twig, and I began to pay attention.

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Photo gallery:
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, PennsylvaniaDate: 2012-10-21full-grown tree in autumn color
By ILPARW
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Location: Bushkill Falls in northeast PennsylvaniaDate: 2018-10-25trees in golden fall color on mountainside
By ILPARW
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Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, PADate: 2012-10-21part of tree crown in autumn color
By ILPARW
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Location: Bushkill Falls in northeast PennsylvaniaDate: 2018-10-25a few trees in golden fall color on mountainside
By ILPARW
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Location: French Creek State Park in southeast PennsylvaniaDate: 2010-06-13full-grown wild tree at forest edge
By ILPARW
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Location: French Creek State Park in southeast PADate: 2009-12-24young trees with young shiny cherry-like bark
By ILPARW
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Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, PADate: 2012-10-21fallen leaves on path in autumn
By ILPARW
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Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, PADate: 2015-04-26yellow catkins (birch flowers) in bloom in spring
By ILPARW
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Location: French Creek State Park in southeast PADate: 2009-12-24mature bark on a full-grown tree
By ILPARW
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Location: Tyler Arboretum in southeast PADate: 2010-06-23summer leaves
By ILPARW
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Location: Blinky Lee Land Preserve in southeast PADate: 2017-10-07foliage and strobiles with seed
By ILPARW
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Comments:
Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Nov 14, 2017 8:51 PM

Sweet Birch is a lovely forest tree native to New England, New York, Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, east Ohio, and down the Appalachians into northern Georgia and Alabama, growing wild in upland mesic (moist) or dry mesic forest, and usually on north or east facing slopes of hills and mountains in acid soils. It grows about 1 foot to 1.5 feet/year and lives about 150 to 200 years. Some large, diverse nurseries grew some in northeast Illinois in the 1980's and probably still do. I saw a few planted in park districts in the Chicago area where the silt-clay loam soils have a pH that is usually 6.5 to 7.1. I remember seeing the first Sweet Birch tree in a cemetery in Urbana, Illinois during a woody plant class expedition at the University of Illinois with Dr. Michael Dirr, and it looked good being about 30 feet high in full sun and surrounded by lawn, (and the soil must have been a silt-clay loam with a pH about 7.0). When this lovely tree is used in landscapes, it is best not to place it in hot, dry, exposed locations. This is the birch from which birch beer is derived. Its crushed twigs have a wintergreen flavor. The leaves are 2.5 to 5 inches long x 1.3 to 3 inches wide. The strobiles are erect and ovoid and hairless. Its bark begins as thin, smooth, almost black bark or dark red-brown ; then bark becomes gray-brown and still basically smooth; then it becomes brown-gray with scaly plates; no peeling. It develops the best golden autumn color of any birch species, though not much better than the very similar species of the Yellow Birch that has some peeling of its bark. I'd like to see this species used a lot more in landscaping as it is so lovely.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
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Salt tolerant plants by eclayne Feb 8, 2013 9:39 PM 130

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