Tenacious Beech Leaves

Feb 27, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. On my drive to Sumter, red maples proliferate in the river swamp but as I get closer to the Stateburg -Wedgefield intersection, low spots are filled with easily identified beech trees. Beech trees, Fagus grandifolia, want lots of moisture but not wet soils. They are extremely easy to spot in winter as they exhibit a condition called winter leaf marcescence. Although these trees are deciduous, the brown, dead leaves don’t fall off in the fall but remain on the trees throughout winter, finally being shed in spring. Normally, autumn leaves form an abscission layer at the bottom of the petiole and fall off promptly. A few trees --beech, some oaks, and witchhazel -- tend to hold onto those leaves, especially on lower branches when the trees are juvenile. Maybe it’s a kinship with Homo sapiens males –they shed their hair more easily as they age.