Betula lenta belongs to a group of birches that have rough bark and sweet sap. It has several common names, including black birch and cherry birch.
The leaves are oval-shaped and finely toothed. The twigs, dotted with lenticels, have a minty taste. Before oil of wintergreen was produced synthetically, sweet birches were a prime source. Sweet birch sap was also used to make birch beer.
The female catkins are erect and are about an inch long.
When the sweet birch is young, the bark is shiny with long, horizontal lenticels; it resembles that of a cherry tree. Mature trees like this one have rough, plate-like bark.