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Betula lenta

Black Birch

Family Betulaceae

Syrup, sugar, water, tea, flour. Sap can be processed like sap of maples
(click here to see how)
to obtain clean drinking water, syrup, and sugar.
Tea can be made by steeping the twigs. In an emergency, flour can be made
from the dried and ground inner bark.


Growth Form: Large tree.

Leaves: 6-13cm (2.5-5in) long, simple, ovate, with pointed tip and rounded base, finely double-toothed.

Flowers: Tiny. Male flowers are yellowish and hang in long catkins. Female flowers are greenish and stand in shorter upright catkins.

Leaves (Hannah Ramer. Brandeis University)

Bud ((Hannah Ramer. Brandeis University)

Cones: 2-4cm (0.75-1.25in) brownish, upright.

Buds: Hairless or lower scale with sparse hairs.

Bark: Smooth, tight, shiny, brown or black, with thin horizontal stripes, old bark fissured irregularly.

Habitat and Range

Cool and moist habitats, with mixed hardwoods and conifers. Southern Main to nothern Ohio and northern Alabama.


Sap and inner bark should be harvested in the spring. The twigs can be harvested any time of the year.

Fun Facts

All birches produce edible sap. Flow is usually best in late March and April, when daytime temperatures are above freezing and nighttime temperatures are below.

Leaves (Hannah Ramer. Brandeis University)

Click here for a Black Birch Tea recipe!

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