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Betula lenta



Sweet Birch

Conservation status
Secure
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betulenta
Species: B. lenta
Binomial name
Betula lenta
L.

Betula lenta (Sweet Birch, also known as Black Birch, Cherry Birch, Mahogany Birch, River Birch, or Spice Birch) is a species of birch native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southernmost Ontario and southern Michigan, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.

Additional recommended knowledge

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 m tall with a trunk up to 60 cm diameter. The bark is (unlike most birches) rough, dark blackish-brown, cracking into irregular scaly plates. The twigs, when scraped, have a strong scent of oil of wintergreen. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 5-10 cm long and 4-8 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3-6 cm long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit, maturing in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

Betula lenta was used commercially in the past for production of oil of wintergreen before modern industrial synthesis; the tree's name reflects this scent of the shoots.

The sap flows about a month later than maple sap, and much faster. The trees can be tapped in a similar fashion, but must be gathered about three times more often. Birch sap can be boiled the same as maple sap, but its syrup is stronger (like molasses).

Betula lenta's leaves serve as food for some lepidopteran caterpillars. See List of Lepidoptera that feed on birches.

 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Betula_lenta". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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