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BETULA lenta

Image of Betula lenta

Jesse Saylor

Family

Betulaceae

Botanical Name

BETULA lenta

Plant Common Name

Sweet Birch

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 2

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 7

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    40'-75' / 12.2m - 22.9m (50)

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Southwestern United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Bronze

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Gold

  • Bark Color

    Dark Red, Sienna, Gray

  • Bark Color Modifier

    Striped/Striated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Platy

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No