It can be found in elevations ranging from sea level to 4,500 feet in the Southern Appalachians. Black birch trees have ascending branches with thin, hariless twigs that are dark red/brown in color. It can be used to make birch beer.[4]. The male (staminate) catkin is green and 3/4 to 1 inch long. Black birch is a beautiful tree as its bark resembles that of black cherry: lustrous, smooth, and dark red on young trees, and black, with loose, curled, scaly black plates on old trees. The oldest known B. lenta has been confirmed to be 368 years old.,[3] and the species may live even longer than that in an undisturbed ancient forest. The female (pistallate) catkin forms in early spring within lateral buds, appearing within the leaves of the tree. It is tolerant to acidic and alkaline soils as well as salt spray, allowing it to thrive in many conditions. The twigs, when scraped, have a strong scent of wintergreen due to methyl salicylate, which is produced in the bark. The fruit of the black birch is a brown, cone-like aggregate, that is 1-1.5 inches in length. From the Hudson River Valley to Lake Erie, except along the higher mountains, in moist or dry, gravelly soils, this tree is well known to boys and girls for the wintergreen flavor of its twigs. It is most abundant in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. The green cones appear in the spring and in the late summer/early fall turn brown and shatter to release their ripened seeds. Due to the cracking and developing of bark plates, a rough age estimate of B. lenta can be determined by how many bark layers a tree has. It is a dominant tree in the northern hardwood forests of northern Appalachia. Staminate catkins form on the black birch in late summer or autumn. Birch sap can be boiled the same as maple sap, but its syrup is stronger (like molasses). A characteristic feature of the twigs of the black birch is that when broken, they have a strong wintergreen aroma. Black birch are also susceptible to fire damage. Infestations of gypsy moths, wooly hemlock adelgid, and dogwood anthracose in the Northeastern US in the 1980s killed many trees and their place was taken by black birch. The leaves are ovoid and the flowers are yellow. Pistillate catkins form alongside leaves and are present on the ends of short, spurlike branches. Mature tree bark turns dark brown to black and breaks up into scales and plates. They fall from mid-September to November, and in natural conditions will normally germinate the following spring. Black birch makes the best tea. A characteristic feature of the twigs of the black birch is that when broken, they have a strong wintergreen aroma. In April and May, flowers open. The Tree is a deciduous tree, it will be up to 25 m (82 ft) high. Unlike most other birches, mature Betula lenta can develop hard, scaly plates. In older tree specimens the bark (unlike the more commonly known birches) develops vertical cracks into irregular scaly plates revealing rough dark brown bark patterns. Privacy policy. Black birch was once harvested extensively to produce oil of wintergreen—the tree was borderline endangered until the 1950s-60s when synthetic oil of wintergreen appeared. The Black Birch, Betula lenta, is an American native tree that grows naturally throughout the east, from Maine, through the Appalachian Mountains into northern Georgia and into Kentucky and Alabama. It can be used to make birch beer. It is sometimes mistakenly identified as a cherry tree. Explore {{searchView.params.phrase}} by color family {{familyColorButtonText(}} Specifically, the black birch is fairly resistant to glaze (ice) in comparison to other hardwood species of the northern hemisphere. Black birch trees have ascending branches with thin, hariless twigs that are dark red/brown in color. The leaves of this species serve as food for some caterpillars and the solitary leaf-cutter bee Megachile rubi cuts pieces from the leaves to line the cells of its nest.[5]. This will continue to occur as long as the tree lives, but the individual bark layers become indiscernible after roughly 250 years of age. Black birch leaves are simple, alternate, elliptical to ovate with an acute tip and cordate base. Betula lenta is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 30 m (98 ft) tall, exceptionally to 35 metres (115 ft)[2] with a trunk up to 60 cm (2.0 ft) diameter. In abandoned fields, B. lenta is often thicket forming and protects trees not resistant to deer browsing. The bark of young trees is reddish brown to black with lighter colored lenticels. Birch sap can be boiled the same as maple sap, but its syrup is stronger (like molasses). The fruit contains very small 2-winged seeds. Deer do not tend to browse young B. lenta allowing trees to grow in areas with high deer populations, Betula alleghaniensis, a close relative of B. lenta, is, however, heavily browsed by deer. After growing to about ¾ of an inch, they open in the spring. The trees can be tapped in a similar fashion, but must be gathered about three times more often. They have a diameter of between 0.60 to 1.2 meters ( 2- 4 feet). It has a dark brown to greyish black color. This accounts for a lack of B. alleghaniensis and an abundance of B. lenta where deer populations are high. Several species fungi and leaf-feeding insects attack the black birch and can cause decay and/or disease, ultimately proving lethal. The inner bark of the black birch has a strong wintergreen scent. In general, black birch has low fruit-seed abundance. It is valued for its wood, which when exposed to air darkens to resemble mahogany, as well as being a source of wintergreen oil. Appearance of the Black Birch Tree. Betula lenta (sweet birch, also known as black birch, cherry birch, mahogany birch, or spice birch) is a species of birch native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southernmost Ontario, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia. Browse 383 black birch tree stock photos and images available, or start a new search to explore more stock photos and images. Closeup of bark beginning to crack and peel its first layer, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T194483A2340770.en,, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 11 November 2020, at 21:20. Sweet Birch, also called Cherry or Black Birch, grows native in the cool, mature woods, often near Eastern Hemlock, of southeast Pennsylvania and the rest of the Appalachian Region where the soil is acid of about pH 5 to 6.5, in various spots. Heights of 50 feet (15 m) to 80 feet (24 m) are more typical. Ice damage usually causes death of black birch by making the tree more susceptible to wood decaying organisms. Found in moist ravines and cool forests with well drained, moist, deep, and rich soil, but also can occasionally be found in rocky or shallow soils. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3 to 6 cm (1.2–2.4 in) long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. Seed production mainly occurs in trees that are between 40 and 200 years old, although light crops may occur as early as 15 years and as long as the tree lives. The sap flows about a month later than maple sap, and much faster. Black birch trees are classified as intolerant of shade and in densely populated areas where there is no access to sunlight, the trees will succumb to competition. Black birch is native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southern Ontario, and south down through the Appalachian region into Georgia. The black birch is a medium size tree that seldom grows more than two feet in diameter or reaches a height of 60 feet. Black birch habitats average about 45 inches of precipitation per year, half of which falls in the growing season, and average annual temperatures of 45° F to 56° F with extremes from 74° F to 15 °F. Betula lenta, known by the common names of black birch, sweet birch, or cherry birch, is a native birch species present throughout much of eastern North America. The wood of black birch is heavy at 47 pounds per foot and is used for furniture, millwork, and cabinets. Removed from its industrial history, it is now primarily found in forests and used as an ornamental tree in landscaping.

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