Betula lenta (Sweet Birch) is a deciduous tree species in the Betulaceae family. It is native to eastern North America and is known for its aromatic bark, graceful form, and attractive foliage.
Sweet Birch typically grows to a height of 40 to 70 feet (12 to 21 meters), although it can sometimes reach heights of up to 100 feet (30 meters). It has a pyramidal or oval-shaped crown with branches that spread out in a graceful manner. The bark of the tree is dark brown to black and exudes a sweet wintergreen fragrance when scratched or rubbed.
The leaves of Sweet Birch are alternate, simple, and ovate in shape. They are typically dark green and have a serrated or doubly serrated margin. In the fall, the leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red, providing a beautiful autumn display.
In spring, Sweet Birch produces small, yellowish-brown male catkins and greenish female catkins that give rise to small winged nutlets. The tree is monoecious, meaning it has both male and female flowers on the same tree. The flowers are wind-pollinated.
Sweet Birch is known for its pleasant wintergreen aroma, which is emitted by its bark, twigs, and leaves when crushed. The aromatic properties make it a popular choice for making teas, flavoring candies, and adding fragrance to various products.
This tree thrives in moist, well-drained soils and prefers full sun to partial shade. It is relatively low-maintenance once established and can tolerate a range of soil conditions. Sweet Birch is also valued for its tolerance to cold temperatures and is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7. In landscaping, Sweet Birch is often used as an ornamental tree in parks, gardens, and larger landscapes. It provides shade, attractive foliage, and a pleasant fragrance.
Overall, Betula lenta, or Sweet Birch, is a beautiful tree with its aromatic bark, graceful form, and attractive foliage. It adds charm and sensory delight to outdoor spaces and is appreciated for its ornamental and aromatic qualities.