Genus Fagus, L. (Beech)
Leaves - simple; alternate; edge sharp-toothed, with small and remote teeth. Outline - oval or egg-shape. Apex - taper-pointed. Base - rounded. Leaf - three to six inches long, about half as wide; a very "finished" leaf; when young, fringed with soft white hairs; becoming smooth and polished; with distinct and straight unbranched side-ribs, ending in the teeth of the edge. The dead, bleached leaves often cling thickly to the branches throughout the winter. Bark - of the trunk, light gray, smooth, and unbroken. Fruit - a small four-celled prickly burr, splitting half-way to the base when ripe, and with two sweet, three-sided nuts in each shell.Found - in rich woods, Nova Scotia to Florida and westward, with it finest growth on the "bluffs" of the lower Mississippi basin. General Information - Large stately trees, with spreading branches and a delicate spray, fifty to eighty feet high. The wood is hard and very close-grained, and is used largely in the making of chairs, handles, plan-stocks, shoe-lasts, and for fuel. When the tree is not crowded, it sends out its nearly horizontal or drooping branches as low as from ten to thirty feet above the ground. Lumber-men make the distinction of "red Beech" and "White Beech," claiming that the former is harder, with a redder and thicker heart-wood. Among woodsmen and the Indians, the Beech is said to be a favorite refuge in thunder-storms. They claim that it is scarcely ever struck by lightning. Lumber-men claim a difference in the quality of trees which retain their leaves and those which shed them. "Said a neighbor to me one day: 'You might 'a knowed that beech would split hard with all the dry leaves on it,' -- and it did. That was the first I'd ever heard of the sign, but I've never known it fail since."
Newhall, Charles S. The Trees of North-Eastern America (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900) 71
Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman