Life (and death) is a Beech!

A small American beech tree adds color to the understory of the forest along the Bear Trail in the upper portion of Buttemilk Falls State Park.

A beech sapling lights up the understory along the Bear Trail.

These colorful branches are on a small tree. Can you make out the trunk? It’s not that big tree in back, but the thin trunk before it. Unfortunately, this is an example of the size of beech you are likely to see in our forests these days.

Tragically, the American beech (Fagus grandifolia), a large and stately member of our forest community, has largely succumbed to beech bark disease, caused by the combined effects of an insect and a fungus. Most large trees have fallen, and small trees may emerge for awhile from roots.

A beech tree killed by beech bark disease has fallen across the trail in the Finger Lakes Land Trust''s Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook in Ithaca. Can you find the broken-off stump?

The beech scale insect was introduced from abroad into Nova Scotia about 1890. This is just another example of the terrible losses of major tree species in our forests from introduced insects and diseases. Learn more about beech bark disease.

Meanwhile, please enjoy our fall colors nonetheless!