Keystone Value: The genus Betula (Birch) supports over 400 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars, providing food for a variety of birds and mammals.
Sweet Birch (Betula lenta) is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that grows naturally in woodlands, preferring north-facing slopes and moist soils. The flowers attract native pollinators, and the foliage turns a showy golden-yellow in the fall. Sweet Birch twigs have a strong sent of wintergreen when scratched. It was once harvested extensively to produce oil of wintergreen, and was borderline endangered until the 1950s-60s when synthetic oil of wintergreen was developed. Its sap can be used to make birch beer as well as a strong syrup that resembles molasses. Sweet Birch is a larval host plant for the Mourning Cloak Butterfly (shown above), among others.