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Mahogany Birch Betula lenta

Phonetic Spelling
BET-yoo-luh LEN-ta
Description

Betula is Latin for birch and describes a genus of about 60 species of deciduous trees and shrubs found in many gardens and landscapes throughout the northern hemisphere. Betula lenta, or Sweet Birch, is a deciduous, pyramidal shaped tree, maturing into a more rounded shape that may grow 60 to 70 feet tall. Native to eastern North America, it is commonly found in forests of both low and high elevation as far south as the mountains of Georgia, but, except for a few cool spots, it is rare in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Foliage is a reliable golden yellow and among the best of the birches. The wintergreen produced from this plant is identical to wintergreen produced by the wintergreen plant. 

Sweet Birches are best grown in moist, acidic, sandy, or rocky, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade and are often found in woodlands, preferring north-facing slopes and moist soils. It is also found on rocky soils; however, it is sensitive to compacted soil. The best foliage color occurs in full sun. Keep the tree consistently moist and consider using soaker hoses and bark mulches to keep the root zones cool and moist. The inner bark gives off a wintergreen scent. It needs little pruning, but if necessary, you can prune during the dormant season. Do not prune in winter or spring when the sap is running because it will bleed.

Birches are considered a "pioneer" species and, thus, tends to grow quickly when young. 

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

Birches can become stressed by summer heat and humidity. Aphids, canker, leaf miner and birch skeletonizer may occur. Watch for leaf spot problems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#gold#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#yellow#full sun#partial shade#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#colorful leaves#playground#seeds#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer browsing plant#deer resistant#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#catkins#Mourning Cloak butterflies#spring interest#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#Duskywing butterflies#food source hard-mast fruit#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#gold#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#yellow#full sun#partial shade#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#colorful leaves#playground#seeds#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer browsing plant#deer resistant#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#catkins#Mourning Cloak butterflies#spring interest#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#Duskywing butterflies#food source hard-mast fruit#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Betula
    Species:
    lenta
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    This plant is used in the production of wintergreen oil. In the past, the people of the Appalachians cut large numbers of this tree to produce wintergreen oil. 100 saplings and young trees were needed to produce only a quart of the oil.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada and United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It is a larval host plant for the Mourning Cloak and Dreamy Duskywing butterflies. Many moths also use as a host plant. Its seeds are eaten by birds.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Pieces Used in Games
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Shimmer
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    highly deer resistant; Fire in the landscape.
    Edibility:
    Sap has been used for syrup and brewed into beer; however, oil from the bark can be toxic.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 60 ft. 0 in. - 70 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 35 ft. 0 in. - 45 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    This plants' seed is a nutlet. During summer, 1 to 1.5-inch cones ripen and break apart, exposing the 2 very small, winged nutlets.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The Sweet Birch has small green flowers that are tinged with red and mature in early spring. The flower on the Sweet birch has 3" to 4" male catkins.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves of the Sweet Birch are 2.5" to 6", broad, ovate with cordate base, single-toothed margins, alternate and simple. Leaves turn a golden-yellow color in the fall.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Patchy
    Ridges
    Smooth
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Round
    Bark Description:
    The bark of young trees is smooth, breaking into small chip-like plates as it ages. Dark, shiny, tight bark with horizontal lenticels. Crushed twigs smell like wintergreen.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Dry Soil
    Fire