Black birch is a North American native.
Many of its common names, such as sweet birch and spice birch, derive from the
oil of wintergreen released from its twigs. The tree was once used as a source of birch beer and
oil of wintergreen.
Plants: A mid-sized deciduous tree up to 82' (25 m)
high, with a trunk that can reach 24" (60 cm) around. Twigs release the scent of wintergreen
(methyl salicylate) when scraped. Bark is reddish brown to black. Trees are
quite often infected with nectria canker.
Leaves: Alternate, ovate, simple, 1¾-4" (5-10 cm) × 1-3" (3-8 cm),
with finely serrated margins. The leaves contain many roughly parallel veins, emerging from the leaf spine
and tilted forward about 45°.
Flowers: Male flowers are hanging catkins ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm)
long. Female catkins are ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm), and erect, green tinged with red.
Fruits: In the fall, the catkins produce cone-like aggregates comprised
of multiple tiny winged seeds. Typically
trees do not produce seeds until they are at least 40 years old.
Betula lenta at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
We think of trees as oxygen producers, but they also need some, which they absorb through these lenticels, horizontal pores that permit gas excahnge. · 6/18/2015 · Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, New Hampshire ≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)
8/9/2012 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Big Tree Trail, Hollis, New Hampshire ≈ 16 × 24" (41 × 62 cm)