Monday, November 23, 2009

Just a pretty tree

Late fall is such a teaser. One moment it’s clear and gorgeous, even warm. Then the sun goes behind a cloud, and it’s time for a jacket, maybe even a heavy one. The changeable weather isn’t unusual, but the change in how I dress when I go outside confounds me for a bit every year. Yesterday was nearly shirt-sleeve weather during the mid-day, and today I’ve had to search for a heavy sweater. Some days I wish I were like the dogs and could just grow a nice winter coat for the new season. That sure would be cheaper.

Today’s photo is one of the many American beech trees that inhabit the local forest. They are a common sight, though too many of them have initials and hearts and what-all carved into them. Beech trees don’t do well in cities, apparently they are sensitive to carbon monoxide. Their roots are shallow but tend to take up just about every square inch of space underneath them. And their leaf canopy blocks sunlight. So nothing much can grow underneath beech trees.

I have two large ones in my front forest, both the same size. This is one I found down in the valley below Roundtop. They are often found in the final stage of forest succession, and they like this area because of the amount of annual rainfall I see here, typically 30-50 inches of it. The temperature also suits them. They can tolerate the cold better than heat above 100o. Perhaps they will be a good indication of future climate change in this area.

I find them a very pretty tree with their gray bark. There’s another reason I like them, too. Even with their shallow root system, they are considered to be rather rootfirm. I like that in a tree, especially in the trees around the cabin.


baump said...

I had also heard that Beech tree roots also release a compound that inhibits growth of other plants within their root zone, but now I can't find any info online re. that fact (?). I did read that the shallow roots that you mention do also inhibit growth due to their absorbtion of much of the precipitation and just their density in general. Also, one of my favorite trees. Something I miss about Delaware, where they are more common. Its nice to read a local blogger...I'm only a few miles away in Etters (the town that doesn't really exist).

Pablo said...

I haven't found any beech trees in my forest, but my forest is only a few decades removed from being ranch land, so I'm about a hundred years away from the last stages of forest succession.

Carolyn H said...

baump: Ihadn't heard about a compound that beeches release. I'll have to see what I can find about that. With the lack of sunlight and the shallow roots system, I wouldn't think they'd really need a special compound to keep the area bare!

Hi, to Etters! Where is that place, anyway??

Carolyn H.

Carolyn H said...

Pablo: Ah, you have something to look forward to in your forest, then. Well, in about 100 years or so!

Carolyn h.