Cherry Birch
Betula lenta  

Location in Ontario
Cherry Birch is a very rare Carolinian Tree that grows only in one known location in the Niagara Region. Cherry Birch is also known as Black Birch or Sweet Birch. Cherry Birch prefers moist soils.

COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) Status:
Cherry Birch is identified as an Endangered Species. This is due to its limited range in Canada and loss of habitat.

COSEWIC: Cherry Birch


   
Genus Betula
Birch trees are easily recognized by their thin sheets of bark. Young birches have smooth, reddish-brown bark with horizontal markings called lenticels. Leaves are simple and alternate. Birch are monoecious, with male and female flowers on the same tree. Seeds are contained in a small nutlet with three lobes and mature in abundance in late fall. In Southern Ontario, there are two species; Cherry Birch and Yellow Birch.
 
In the Landscape
Cherry Birch is of medium size reaching 20 metres, and living to over 250 years. It is occasionally used as a landscape tree, with its nice form, but birches are prone to pests and produce a large number of seeds.


Row of Cherry Birch, University of Guelph Arboretum

TREE FACT: The inner bark of both Yellow Birch and Cherry Birch have the fragrance and taste of wintergreen. If you scratch a twig, you should be able to smell wintergreen! Cherry Birch was once an important source of wintergreen oil in the United States, to the point where the tree was becoming scarce, but today the oil is synthesized.
 
Leaves
Cherry Birch leaves are simple, with toothed edges. Leaves turn yellow in the fall.
Bark
Birches are easily recognized by their thin sheets of gray bark. Young birches have smooth, reddish-brown bark with horizontal marking called lenticels. Mature Cherry Birch has gray bark.
Flowers
Cherry Birch is monoecious, with male and female flowers on the same tree. The male flowers are in long catkins, and female flowers are upright and cone-like. Flowers appear in May before the leaves. They are wind pollinated.
Fruit
The fruit is a small nutlet, with three narrow lobes, found in the cone-like flowers. The fruit matures in late fall. Seed crops occur after 40 years of growth, usually in two or three year intervals.

TREE FACT: The bark and sap are used to make various types of Birch Beer soft drinks and  alcoholic beer.

TREE FACT: Cherry Birch is also known as Sweet Birch. Its sap can be used to make syrup. 100 litres of sap is needed to make 1 litre of syrup (whereas Sugar Maple needs 40 litres to make 1 litre). However, Cherry Birch yields much more sap.

Wood
The wood of Cherry Birch is a deep, dark red which is why it is sometimes known as Mahogany Birch. The wood is moderately heavy and hard, and sold as "Yellow" Birch.
Specific Gravity: 0.65
Janka Hardness:
1470 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

Genetics
No natural hybrids are formed, but hybrids with Yellow Birch have been successful but of poor quality.


Large Cherry Birch, University of Guelph Arboretum

Link to United States Forest Service Silvics Manual for Cherry Birch.

~~~~~