Magazine article American Forests

The Biggest American Beech

Magazine article American Forests

The Biggest American Beech

Article excerpt

From Shakespeare's Orlando to today's infatuated adolescent, people have carved their messages of love and glory into the smooth bark of the enduring beech tree. It is no coincidence that the word book was derived from the Old English word bece, meaning beech. Perhaps the most famous inscription made on an American beech was one legible for more than 100 years on a tree in the mountains of eastern Tennessee: "D. Boon called A BAR On Tree in ThE YEar 1760." Given the notoriety of its author, the message probably saved the tree from the axes and saws felt by nearly all mature eastern trees in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Natural causes felled Daniel Boone's tree in 1916 at the respectable age of 365. It had a girth of 28 1/2 feet.

The current champion American beech, barely past 200 years old and a "mere" 18 1/2 feet around, still has a lot of growing to do. Benefiting from an isolated site on the moist floodplain of Ohio's Ashtabula River, the champ has escaped the ax but not the knife. …

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