Betula lenta. Black Birch.
Nat. Ord. — Betulaceae. Sex. Syst. — Monoecia Polyandria.
Description. — Betula Lenta, also known as Cherry Birch, Sweet Birch, Mahogany Birch, etc., is a large tree growing from fifty to seventy feet in hight, with a diameter of from two to three feet. The leaves are cordate-ovate, acuminate, acutely and finely doubly serrate, hairy on the veins beneath, and on the petioles. Fertile aments erect, elliptical, thick, somewhat hairy ; sterile aments two to three inches long, longer than the fertile, and not so thick ; lobes of the veiny scales nearly equal, obtuse, diverging.
History. — This is a well known tree, growing in various parts of the United States. The trunk is invested with a dark-brown or reddish bark, which becomes rough in old trees, and has, together with the leaves, an aromatic flavor and taste, somewhat similar to Gaultheria Procumbens. The wood is of a reddish color, strong, compact, and takes a fine polish ; it is much used in cabinet work. The cambium is used in the spring by boys, as a delicious morsel. The bark is the part used, and yields its properties to water.
Properties and Uses. — Gently stimulant, diaphoretic, and astringent. Used in warm infusion wherever a stimulating diaphoretic is required, also in diarrhea, dysentery, cholera-infantum, etc. In decoction or syrup, it forms an excellent tonic to restore the tone of the bowels, after an attack of dysentery. Said to have been useful in gravel, and female obstructions.
The American Eclectic Dispensatory, 1854, was written by John King, M. D.