Plants and People Project

Sweet Birch - Betula lenta

Beer was made from the sap of the birch and oil of wintergreen was distilled from the inner bark and twigs. The Herbalist

Also known as Black birch or Cherry birch.

"When crushed the leaves twigs give off a sweet wintergreen fragrance.

Trees can be tapped in spring and the sap fermented to make birch beer. Early settlers fancied the supple spring growth of sweet birch for use "flossing" between sporadic remnants of teeth." VTech tree sheet

It is used as paper pulp to mixed with other wood pulps. Other uses include lumber, veneer, furniture, cabinets, woodenware, boxes, handles.

"The heavy, hard, strong wood is used for furniture, boxes, and fuelwood. Distillation of the bark and twigs produces an oil sold as a substitute for wintergreen. Fermented sap can be used to make birch beer." PA DCNR

"The inner bark of the tree was used to relieve indigestion and stomach cramps. The bark was chewed or steeped in water, and taken as a tea. The inner bark is supposed to be nourishing and can be chewed when one is in need of extra energy."

Commonly recognized by the bark that has horizontal lines.

Wildlife - Sweet birch is browsed by deer. The seeds, buds, and catkins are eaten by a variety of birds and small mammals. It attracts deer, roughed grouse, porcupines, rabbits, many species of birds


Facts about other birches

"Yellow birch wood is heavy, strong, hard and takes a good polish. It is used for flooring, interior finish, veneers, furniture, and small wooden toys. It also makes excellent firewood." EEK!

The barks of several varieties of birch trees were used to make dyeing to get light browns and blacks. Natural Dyes and Home Dyeing

White birch wood is used for ice cream sticks, tooth picks, bobbins, broom handles and for pulp. Audubon Field Guide to Trees of the Eastern Region

The bark of the white birch, also called canoe birch, has been used for centuries to make birch bark canoes.

Birch is a pioneer species, the shade intolerant tree is one of the first colonizers of fire disturbed or clear-cut lands. Native Plants of the Northwest

It is a wonderful landscape tree with 4 seasons of interest. Birches are excellent focal points in a garden bed.

River Birch

Identification and other facts / PLANTS database / Facts

Sweet birch tree bark

black birch bark

Sweet Birch leaves in fall

black birch leaves

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Posted 10/15/05 Cindy O'Hora