Sweet Birch

Betula lenta Betulaceae

Other names

Black Birch, Cherry Birch

Growth habit


Native distribution

Native to the Finger Lakes Region, ME to AL, West to OH


Warm, dry, often steep or rocky sites.


Store seeds dry at room temperature. Cold-moist stratify for 60-90 days. Sow at 70 degrees.

Biocultural value

Both this and yellow birch contain methyl salicylate (wintergreen essential oil) which gives both plants their distinctive, refreshing aroma. This relieves pain and reduces inflammation. It also increases perspiration and is a mild laxative. Today herbal practitioners use it to treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, arteriosclerosis, water retention and fevers. It is also used in psoriasis and eczema.


Mundy Wildflower Garden, Floriculture War Memorial Trail, Cornell Class of 1938 Native Maple Slope, Hillside Garden, Coy Glen, Edwards Lake Cliffs Preserve, Fischer Old-growth Forest, McLean Bogs, Ringwood Ponds, South Hill Swamp

Source of plant

Eastern Plant Specialists, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Schichtel's Nursery


Pyramidal and dense in youth, forming an irregular, rounded, sometimes wide-spreading crown at maturity, reaching 40' to 55' in height in a landscape situation with a spread of 35' to 45'; in the wild it may reach 70' to 80' in height. Fall color golden-yellow; exhibits the best fall color of the commonly cultivatedbirches. Resistant to bronze birch borer.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Special characteristics

disease resistance, fall color