The American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) is “one of the grandest, most majestic of our eastern trees” in the opinion of William Cullina, author of Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. It has smooth gray bark that is perfect for carving names in. In fact, according to Wikipedia,
Davy Crockett Daniel Boone carved his name on a beech tree.
We seem to have a lot of beech trees growing on our hillside, but after reading that they “form a tangle of root suckers” (Cullina) I wonder if I really looked, I would see that we actually have a few beech trees with a lot of maturing suckers, forming a grove. Their seeds are called beechnuts, which many different kinds of animals eat, including Homo sapiens, who uses it as a flavoring for chewing gum.
It is easy to recognize beech seedlings in the winter, for they hold onto their leaves until, uh, right about now.Yesterday I was walking downhill in the woods on a path that was blanketed with dry, papery beech leaves. I slid and slipped on them more than once, always recovering my balance but apparently straining my back from the contortions I went through to stay upright. A good soak in a hot tub has already helped, and I expect to be fully recovered in a day or two.