Today's written entry is courtesy of Raakel Toppila. Raakel is a summer student working with UBC Botanical Garden's plant collections. – Daniel
The American beech can be found throughout the forests of eastern North American among sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (Acer rubrum), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) and American basswood (Tilia americana). Together, they create a stunning fall colour display, characteristic of the eastern deciduous forests. The American beech’s stark, light grey bark and buttressing base is easy to spot in the forests throughout the year, or from the road while practicing high-speed botany.
The thin, grey bark is no match for numerous insects, which pierce and suck sap from the trees. Small, woolly beech scale can be found feeding on the sap of the tree in some regions. The insect was introduced to North American in the late 1800s. Damage done by the scale makes the tree susceptible to fungi in the genus Nectria. Together, these minute organisms can be deadly for a large American beech (see beech bark disease via the USDA Forest Service).
A large “mother” tree can often be found amongst a thicket of smaller beech trees, which have arisen from root suckers. Offspring also arise from seeds, which provide food for deer, bears, squirrels and chipmunks. Beech nuts can also be roasted for human consumption (see this thread on the UBC BG forums).
For additional information, please visit Fagus grandifolia in the Silvics of North America.
Interested in beeches? Talk about them in the beeches discussion forum.