|The Beech Take Command of Late Autumn, Chesterfield, New Hampshire|
|A few valiant Maples hang on|
the color, but in their minds eye they are seeing the Maples. Sure the early yellow
of the birches and the later brown of the oaks can be lovely, but when it comes time to identify the iconic leaf of the season it is almost always the red and gold of our Maples. Who can argue, Maple trees in full display are spectacular, but they are also short lived and fragile. You have to be there at just the right time to catch the full show and the window of opportunity in any one place may last only a few days. As someone who is in it for the entire season, I would like to honor the tree which, although not the most spectacular, does more to extend the beauty of autumn in New England, the under-appreciated American Beech.
The Noble BeechThe American Beech is a native of the Eastern and Central United
|Controversial Daniel Boone Carving. |
I see 1776.
|Beech Yellow and Brown|
Hanging in There
|Oak Leaves Hang on warmed by the Connecticut River|
Over time the leaves mature to a rich brown, but when the Maple leaves are largely on the ground, the Beech are just reaching their peak. There are other, late turning trees. Most notably, the Oaks are important contributors to late fall's evolution to earthy brown color, but they don't hang on like the Beech.
Last weekend I was exploring the forest on the hills above Stonewall Farm and found myself surrounded by surprisingly brilliant yellow foliage, a few oak, but mostly the persistent Beech. It was an amazing display. I felt like I was transported back to peak foliage. In the winter, the Beech often provides a surprising splash of color decorating an otherwise black and white world.
|Beech and Birch|
So, as Autumn fades away, take a moment to honor the under-appreciated Beech. Without it, our fleeting New England Autumn would be just a little more fleeting and that is something we can do without.
|As the winter progresses the Beech leave become thin and pale,|
But STILL hang on!