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.