Plant Common Name
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
Attaining a rounded but broad, spreading canopy when mature, the sweet or cherry birch is renowned for its attractive reddish bark. The bark becomes scaled and charcoal gray with age and lenticels dot the bark, much like that seen on cherry trees. The deciduous sweet birch tree is native to much of eastern North America, with adjunct populations in the cooler, higher elevations of the American Southwest.
The satin-gloss to matte green leaves are pointed ovals with fine teeth on the margins. Leaf undersides are a lighter shade. In early spring, just as leaves emerge, catkins don the branches. Male catkins are golden and pendulous, while the female types are less showy. Pollinated by the wind, female catkins produce nutlets later in summer. In autumn, this birch's foliage turns a rich golden yellow. Breaking a twig and crushing it releases a pleasant wintergreen aroma; the crushed twig tastes sweet (unlike a bitter taste indicative of the yellow birch, Betula alleghaniensis).
Grow the sweet birch in full to partial sun. Any moderately fertile, non-alkaline soil suffices but it performs best in deep soils with lots of organic matter. It will survive in drier, rockier sites. Keep the root zone mulched to ensure a moist, cool soil during the summertime. This tree excels where summers aren't too warm and droughts are never severe. Sweet birch is excellent as a specimen shade tree. It's also resistant to attacks of the bronze birch borer.
AHS Heat Zone
7 - 2
USDA Hardiness Zone
3 - 7
Full Sun, Partial Sun
40'-75' / 12.2m - 22.9m (50)
Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Southwestern United States, Canada