Beech Fagus grandifolia
Family: Fagaceae (Beech)
Branching: Alternate

Beech is usually a very distinctive tree in hardwood forests, where its smooth gray bark stands out on mature trees.  In the winter, dead leaves are often seen still on the branches.  There is not much that beech can be mistaken for; its buds very long, slender and light brown.  The closest thing are the buds of the small, thorny Gooseberries.  Beech is the only large tree whose bark remains smooth.  Musclewood (often call Blue-beech) has much smaller and darker buds, though its bark can look similar

Long, slender end bud of Beech

Winter twig.  Notice the whispy white hairs on the buds.  The most similar buds are those of Serviceberry
but their twigs do not have as many scales and are often reddish-purple, not brown.

Dead leaves often remain on the tree over the winter (especially on saplings)

The smooth bark of mature trees is distinctive

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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