Thursday, March 5, 2015

Afternoon at the Beech

Snow day! So naturally I went for a walk in the woods.

Many of my co-workers have been dreaming about trips to the beach lately. While a tropical beach sounds nice, it's definitely not in the cards for me. But, to tell you the truth, I think I can do without the beach as long as I can visit a nice beech instead. In all seasons, the American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) has long been one of my very favorite trees. Today's walk in the woods presented nice views of this wonderful tree.

Young beech trees tend to retain their leaves throughout the winter. For what's worth, retained leaves on a deciduous tree are called "marcescent" by botanists. Whatever it's called, to my eye, beech leaves in winter are like copper ornaments decorating the gray winter forest.

Snowy Beech

Winter ornaments

One of my favorite beeches, right behind the house

Last year's leaves and this year's buds

Decaying beech log and young beech sapling. Wear on the leaves depends upon
the tree's exposure to the elements. This sapling appears to be fairly protected.

Unless in a protected spot, marcescent beech leaves weather throughout the winter until they are paper thin and translucent.

Beechdrop (Epifagus americana) — An often unnoticed late summer/early autumn wildflower found only beneath old beech trees. Having no leaves and no chlorophyll, the Beechdrop is parasitic exclusively on the American Beech.

Fallen ornament

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