Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Beech

In some protected areas, trees are still holding on to their dead leaves. I’m used to seeing the patches of brown leaves and occasionally, I’ll notice one that is different enough to warrant investigation. These leaves were a slightly different shade of brown and turned out to be those of the Beech, Fagus grandiflora.

The leaf is shaped like a spear point and has neatly scalloped edges with sharp points. When fresh, the leaf has the crisp, clean cut appearance of something made with expert precision. The old leaves tend to curl and wear, but still present a striking image.

The bud is long and pointed like a pike (the jabbing weapon, not the fish). It’s hard to mistake this bud for something else.

The combination of leaf and bud makes it possible to identify this species from quite a distance.

The bark of the Beech is exceptionally smooth. This species has always been considered the official carving tree. As in carving dates, hearts and initials into the bark.

There are only a few small and no large Beech trees at Blue Jay Barrens. I was really happy to see this previously undiscovered specimen. There’s not much of an opening in the canopy here. I hope this guy is able to find a way up into the sunlight.

1 comment:

  1. There are many differences between our properties, and this is a striking one - we have tons of Beech trees on our acreage. The trees closest to our bird feeders are Beech, and they are still holding on to some of their leaves, although the repeated bouts of snow and wind have forced a considerable number of them to drop in the last few months.