50 Natives: Connecticut – Fagus grandifolia (American Beech)

April 8, 2009

One of things that I love about planting trees is the realization of how long this thing that you are putting in a place is going to stay there….and imagining what it will see in it’s life time? A couple summers ago we planted a redwood at a clients home and we all still talk about the excitement of it all.

Planting a beech tree feels the same. The American Beech is a stately native tree; deciduous – growing to 20–35 m (66–110 ft) tall, with smooth, silvery-gray bark. Shade-tolerant and often found in stands will maple in the north and magnolia in the south.

The American Beech bark is an attraction for vandals who carve names, dates, and other material into it. One such tree in Louisville, Kentucky, in what is now the southern part of Iroquois Park, bore the legend “D. Boone kilt a bar” and the year in the late 1700s. This carving was authenticated as early as the mid-1800s, and the tree trunk section is now in the possession of The Filson Historical Society in Louisville. This is the type of thing I drag my children to see.

It is sometimes planted as an ornamental tree, but (even within its native area) much less often than the European Beech; the latter species is faster-growing and somewhat more tolerant of difficult urban sites.

beech leaf liquor
Beech Leaf Liquor by nature adrift.
“This old recipe is thought to originate from south-west England (recipe by Richard Mabey)
A pint of gin steeped in beech leaves for 2-3 weeks
200 g white sugar dissolved in 250 ml of water per pint of gin
Dash of brandy”

american beech 50 ntaives fagus grandifolia

1. IMG_7940, 2. snow melting on beech, 3. Fagus grandifolia_bark.JPG, 4. Fagus grandifolia, 5. As is, 6. Fagus grandifolia, 7. Fagus grandifolia, 8. Beech leaves, 9. Fagus grandifolia (Fagaceae)

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