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The American Beech in Winter

- W.R.Weiland

Whether it comes from tree enthusiasts or from those that have never been on a walk in the woods, during the cold months, evergreens get all the attention. Cedars, pines, hollies, and endless arborvitae seem to be the victors across the land as the rest of our wooded areas stand naked in the cold, having lost their leaves before the holidays.

So alluring is the evergreen this time of year, many offer top dollar to have Fir and Spruce cut down at only seven to ten years of age, only to be brought into homes for a couple weeks before being tossed to the curb.

With the exception of some hardy oaks that desperately cling to a few browned leaves, it is the evergreen that captures our hearts in the Winter.

But let us not overlook the American Beech. Within many of the woods and state forest on Delmarva, pockets of Beech trees sit silent, happy to have a few passersby recognize its grace among its taller contemporaries (and likely more pleased to have not inherited the unfortunate circumstance which our Spruce or Fir face during December).

An extraordinary tree, it flaunts its special character with sand colored leaves that dance and shimmer in the cold winter air. Nature’s tinsel.

Slow to exceed heights we may typically see on Delmarva from pines and other native deciduous trees, a large specimen, indeed, would have a long story to tell.

And so as the prized abalone is to the oyster shell, let the evergreens compliment the American Beech.

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