Shade-tolerant, young beeches became established and persist as saplings in the understory of mixed hardwood forests in the Piedmont of the Southeastern U.S., and maybe elsewhere, too.
|beeches near the old sawmill in the Schoenike Arboretum, SC Botanical Garden|
There are a lot more beech saplings in the understory today than were present five years ago -- it's something I've noticed particularly this winter.
I'm thinking that the easing of the decade-long drought might have encouraged a 'cohort' of establishment (first seedlings and now saplings) in the understory of our mixed hardwood forests, where seed-producing beeches were nearby.
This is evident both in woodland/forest areas near the Meditation Garden, as well as beyond the powerline corridor, where the photo (above) was taken (adjacent to the beech grove).