Black Birch

Betula lenta

Family Betulaceae


Notable Features
Leaves: Leaves ovate* and pointed, alternate* and double-toothed*; base wide and sometimes asymmetrical. Leaf surface and underside dull.
Twigs/Buds: Twigs smooth and hairless; buds* small, pointed and hairless. When broken, twigs give off a strong wintergreen smell.
Bark: The bark is smooth and unpeeling in younger trees, either a dark-brown or black. Lighter horizontal lines run around the circumference of the trunk. Older trees have darker, peeling bark.
Flowers/ Fruit: Flowers appear in clusters, off stems, April through May and give rise to fruiting catkins*, which stand erect and away from their stems, August through October.
Size/Shape: A large, straight tree reaching heights of 70 feet (21 meters).

Location on Campus

(click for map)

One of the most common trees in Sachar Woods. Also located between Spingold Theater and the art buildings, near a rock outcropping.

Uses
The twigs of the sweet birch can be collected and steeped in hot water to make a tea. The sap of the Black Birch, like the Maples, can be reduced to syrup, or can be used as drinking water, or for steeping tea. Also, the inner bark of the birch can be collected, dried, ground into a meal, and used to extend supplies of flour. All birches, like the maples, can be used as a source of syrup.

Except where specifically noted, all text, photographs, and drawings copyright Chris Bersbach and Lisa Leombruni 2002. No part of this page may be reproduced without the express permission of the authors.