Betula lenta, commonly known as black birch or sweet birch, is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America, ranging from southern Canada to northern Florida and west to Missouri. It belongs to the Betulaceae family and can grow up to 75 feet tall.
The bark of Betula lenta is dark, almost black, and has deep furrows and horizontal lenticels. When scratched or cut, it gives off a distinctive wintergreen aroma due to the presence of methyl salicylate. The leaves of the tree are ovate and serrated, and turn a bright yellow color in the fall.
The tree produces small, cylindrical catkins in the spring, which contain male and female flowers. The female flowers develop into small, winged nutlets that are dispersed by the wind. The tree prefers moist, well-drained soils and is often found in forests and along streams and rivers.
Betula lenta has a variety of uses, including as a source of lumber, firewood, and pulpwood. The wintergreen aroma of the bark and leaves also makes it a popular choice for use in natural fragrances and flavorings. Additionally, the tree has a long history of use in traditional medicine, with the bark and leaves used to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, colds, and pain.