A Miniature American Chestnut?
While hiking in Shenandoah National Park last weekend, I became baffled by a couple small trees that caught my eye. I was baffled because they looked very much like an American Chestnut tree, just scaled down to a child-size. The scallop of the leaf edges intrigued me, being so reminiscent of the chestnut tree that I am so familiar with.
Ocean Waves and Pointed Teeth
The American Chestnut’s leaf is characterized by an ocean wave edge. Here you can see the edge of the American Beech, with its leaf edge of sharp pointed teeth. Sometimes the American Chestnut ocean wave edge looks much the same, the waves are just not breaking.
Funny Thing About That
Going to my library of books on trees, I discovered that chestnut trees are in the beech family. No wonder they look similar!
The American Beech has a silvery gray bark that is smooth, which it retains even into old age.
A Tree That Does Not Drop Its Leaves
This autumn, as other trees are dropping their leaves, the American Beech will hold onto its leaves through the winter and will only drop them as the winter turns to spring. These small trees with brown leaves in the dead of winter, in the understory of the forest, have fascinated me for years. Only now do I know what they are!