Friday, February 13, 2009

Winter beeches

Have you ever wondered about our hardwood forests in winter?

American beech trees retain their leaves, giving the successional forests in the Garden a ghostly appearance. Beeches are abundant in the understory of hardwood forests throughout the Upstate; shade-tolerant beeches have regenerated in the lower light levels of maturing forest. Lack of periodic natural fire is another reason that beeches are common where they didn't used to be; fire damages their thin bark, killing young (and old) trees.

The dead leaves are shed as the new leaves expand in spring.

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