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Mike's Blog - Day 205

A lovely birch for you today, perhaps one of the finest but its not well known. It’s the Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch from EN America in the arboretum, Betula lenta.

And here is a close-up of the leaves on the turn.

"Sweet" because of the aromatic smell if you scrape its twigs. The famous nursery “Hilliers” recommend you lie down under the tree in the autumn to take in the colour and smell. The Japanese have a term for this “forest bathing”, “Shinrin-Yoku” and it's becoming quite popular, perhaps there is something in it.

They are also compared to a cherry as, over the years, the bark peels and on the oldest trees reveals much darker black cherry like bark. This peeling doesn’t start until the trees are 40-50 years apparently, and ours looks like it’s starting to peel now.

Our native Birch, Betula pendula, has lived to about 60-80 years, but the oldest Sweet Birch are much older, commonly over 200 years. The oldest recorded was over 360 years.

Certainly a nice tree and worthy of being more popular.

I popped down out of curiosity to see what the twigs smell of, and I was impressed by a strong smell much like that of meadowsweet foliage. A lot of the leaves have washed off now after the weekend rain, but spring is on the way. I could see the catkins forming already.