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Sweet Birch vs Yellow Birch

These two birches can be confused where their ranges overlap, as both have a similar leaf shape, their bark is often similar in color, and both have a wintergreen aroma to their twigs and bark. They can be reliably distinguished by bark texture, or regularity of serrations on leaf margins.

Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)

Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)

A tree native to eastern North America, mostly from the Appalachians through southern New England.
A large birch native to northeastern North America, named for the often-yellowish color of its bark.
Bark does not flake or peel. Bark completely smooth on young trees; mature trees have vertical cracks in bark.
Photo © Fluff Berger, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Bark flakes off in thin, horizontal, ribbon-like strips. Pattern of flaking relatively consistent across trees of different ages.
Photo © Rob Foster, CC BY 4.0.
Serrations on leaf margins more regular and more dense, usually more than 6 teeth per cm.
Photo © Even Dankowicz, CC BY 4.0.
Serrations on leaf margin more irregular, and sparser, usually fewer than 6 teeth per cm.
Photo © Christian Grenier, Public Domain.
Bark often darker in color, not yellowish, sometimes brownish.
Photo © Laura Gaudette, CC BY 4.0.
Bark often yellowish.
Photo © Ken Kneidel, Public Domain.
Bark always matte or dull, not shiny.
Photo © Ira Gershenhorn, Public Domain.
Bark of young trees often shiny, giving it a metallic appearance.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.
Bark eventually develops scaly texture on very old trees. Smooth, horizontal texture disappears, especially lower down on the trunk.
Photo © awiker92, CC BY 4.0.
Old trees still retain smoother, horizontally-striped bark appearance, even at the base of tree; pattern even evident on large surface roots.
Photo © Reuven Martin, Public Domain.