Sweet birch occurs in moist, well-drained woodland slopes. Best grown in full sun.
Betula lenta is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 30 m (98 ft) tall, exceptionally to 35 metres (115 ft) with a trunk up to 60 cm (2.0 ft) diameter. Heights of 50 feet (15 m) to 80 feet (24 m) are more typical. In younger trees the bark is characteristic of most birches, with smooth bark and distinct horizontal lenticels. It is sometimes mistakenly identified as a cherry tree.