Tree and Plant Identification # 1 – Sweet Birch During Winter Months

Journal Notes:  Birch sap can be collected in a similar manner to Maple sap, except about a month later and it usually only flows for about a month. The sap also needs to be gathered about three times more often than maple sap. The Sweet Birch has a smooth bark with distinct horizontal lines. In older and mature trees, vertical cracks can appear that leaves a dark brown mark on the tree but not always. It is sometimes mistaken for a cherry tree. The leaves are alternate and ovate about 2-4 inches long and 1.5-3 inches broad with a fine serration along the margin. A wintergreen flavored tea can be made by pouring hot sap or water over sweet birch twigs cut into small pieces. Let seep for no more than two minutes, then filter the twigs out. The inner red bark can also be used if cut into small strips, dried and used with hot water or sap (never boiling, too much heat ruins the flavor) to make another tea type drink.

Made by Eric Bourgault, Deranged Survival

Tip sheet made by Eric Bourgault, Deranged Survival

Disclaimer:  As far as we know the information provided is accurate. New England Woods LLC DOES NOT recommend any person or animal touch, taste, ingest, harvest, etc any plant material or organic matter found outdoors without receiving proper training from an expert in foraging, botany or biology, as well as consulting a health professional first. New England Woods LLC, its staff and volunteers ARE NOT experts, biologists, botanists or professional foragers. New England Woods LLC and its volunteers and staff, ARE NOT liable for any injury, allergy, or death which may result from information found on this website. This website and blog are intended to distribute general and basic information only. 

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2 thoughts on “Tree and Plant Identification # 1 – Sweet Birch During Winter Months

  1. Probably one of most common Betula species, at least in southern New England. It’s also one of my favourite trees not just for the sap, but because the tree contains higher concentrations of methyl salicilate, the natural chemical compound for “wintergreen” flavour, than Wintergreen/Checkerberry does.
    This looks like a fantastic ID series, keep putting them up :D.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Jay and for sharing your knowledge! I am by no means an expert with plant and tree identification. When it comes to the woods it’s probably my weakest area, all the more reason to practice.

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