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But my limited space will not allow of tracing the history of the beech from ancient to modern times, although it has always been esteemed as food for man, as well as for wild and domesticated animals. Swine fattened on beech and oak mast have for ages been noted for their excellent flesh, and the value of many an old estate in Great Britain was determined more upon the mast the forest produced, than the area or number of square miles they contained.
As a monumental tree the beech has no rival, for its smooth gray bark, perennial and almost unchangeable, has ever been a convenient place to register challenges to enemies, epitaphs, epithets, and probably more frequently than all, the initials of the name of some loved one, who might possibly pass that way and find her name engraved on the beechen tree. I doubt much if there is a beech grove in all Europe or in America, within a convenient distance of a city, country village or schoolhouse, on which the bark of the trees is not scarified by the knives of boys in recording the initials of their own names, and those of their favorites of the opposite sex. These living registers were long ago recognized by the poets, and more than eighteen centuries ago Virgil admits it in these lines :
" Or shall I rather the sad verse repeat,
Which on the beech's bark I lately writ." In more modern times Tasso hints of the same habit, in Jerusalem Delivered, to wit:
“On the smooth beechen rind, the pensive dame
That the Spanish youths were not oblivious to their opportunities for recording the names of their favorites we must assume to be true, from the lines of Don Luis de Gongora, who tells us that:
“Not a beech but bears some cipher,
Tender word, or amorous text.
Angelina sounds the next."
Propagation of the Beech.-The beech, in all its species and varieties, may be propagated by the usual modes, viz. : By seed, layers, budding and grafting. The seeds, when gathered, should be mixed with clean, sharp, moist sand, placed in boxes, and then stored in a cool or cold place and carefully protected from mice, until the time arrives for sowing in spring. They may also be sown in the fall and lightly covered with leaf mold or other light soil, but unless coated with tar or some offensive poisonous substance, vermin of some form will be very likely to find them and leave few to grow. Seedlings are used for stocks upon which to work the many varieties in cultivation, but as I am not writing this for the encouragement of propagators of purely ornamental trees, I will omit giving any very extended description of the different modes of propagating the beech, further than to say that should remarkably fine varieties with extra-sized nuts be discovered or produced, they can be perpetuated and multiplied by the same processes adopted for other kinds of nut trees.
Soil and Location. The beeches of Northern countries, in their many varieties, thrive best in a cool, moist soil, for their roots rarely penetrate very deeply, but spread out widely and near the surface, forming an intricate network, which will try the patience of the woodman who attempts to clear away a forest of beech and break up the ground. In this country, as well as in Europe, the beech thrives in calcareous soils, or what is usually termed limestone regions; consequently, when transplanted or raised in sandy soils, or on the red sandstore formation, light applications of lime are usually found very beneficial; but more than all, the beech requires moisture, and if not planted in a moist soil the surface over the roots should be kept constantly covered with some kind of mulch.
Species and Varieties of the Beech. In the Dictionary of Gardening, edited by George Nicholson, of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England, the following species of Fagus are briefly described, viz :
F. antarctica. Leaves ovate, blunt, glabrous, attenuated at the base, doubly dentate, alternate, petiolate, one and a half inches long. A small deciduous tree or shrub, with rugged, tortuous branches. Native of Tierra del Fuego, S. A.
F. betuloides (birch-like). Evergreen beech.Leaves ovate, elliptic, obtuse crenulate, leathery, shining glabrous, round at the base or short footstalks. An evergreen tree, native of Tierra del Fuego, S. A.
F. ferruginea (rusty). American beech.—Leaves ovate, acuminate, thickly toothed, downy beneath, ciliate on the margin. A large deciduous tree, very closely resembling the common European species, from which it is distinguished by its longer, thinner and less shining leaves.
F. obliqua (oblique). Chile beech.-Leaves ovate, oblong, oblique, somewhat rhomboid, blunt, doubly serrated, entire at the base, attenuated into the petiole, and somewhat downy. A hardy deciduous tree, native of the cooler elevated regions of Chile, S. A.
F. sylvatica (sylvan). European beech.-Leaves oblong, ovate, obscurely toothed; margin ciliate. A wellknown large deciduous tree, widely distributed in Europe from Norway southward to Asia Minor. From this species a large number of ornamental varieties have been produced, many of them merely accidental variations of the wild forms of the forests, while others have originated in the seed beds of nurserymen. But so far as I am aware, no variety has ever been introduced bearing superior or improved forms of nuts.
Our American beech (F. ferruginea) is a widely distributed tree, extending from Nova Scotia in the north, south to Florida, and westward to Wisconsin and Missouri. Formerly it was exceedingly abundant, but like many other of our most valuable forest trees, it is disappearing before the axe of the woodman, who has always found a ready sale for beech timber. It is used in the manufacture of plane stocks, shoe lasts, handles for paring chisels, and hundreds of similar articles. Beech wood is hard, firm, and takes a good polish, but is not very flexible. It makes excellent fuel, and ranks next in value to hard maple and hickory for this purpose. In the more northern States and where the beech grows to its largest size, the heartwood is usually of a reddish color; but here in New Jersey and farther south, the wood is usually white almost to the center of the tree, no matter how large it may be. The color of the wood, however, does not in any way detract from its value, for fuel and many other purposes, although some European dendrologists have been deceived into supposing that the white beech was almost or quite worthless. Loudon, in Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum, Vol. III, in referring to our beech, says: “The wood of the white beech is little valued in America, even for fuel; and the bark is used for tanning, but is little esteemed,” etc. But if any one, in these later years, has had occasion to purchase beech timber for any purpose, he has probably learned, from the price charged, that it is esteemed, even for such base purposes as firewood.
I am not, however, attempting to extol the American beech as a timber tree, but ask that it be given a place among the select ornamental nut-bearing kinds. And I think every farmer who has a pasture lot could afford a place for at least one beech tree, and if there is a low, moist spot in the field, or a stony corner, this will be a suitable place for such a tree; and the horses, cattle or sheep out in pasture during hot days in summer will be very grateful for the shade which a widespreading specimen will give them. It may be that the owner of said pasture may recall the lines of Garcilaso :
“But in calm idlesse laid,
Supine in the cool shade
Sees his flocks feeding stray,
Whitening a length of way, Or numbers up his homeward-tending kine." He may be sure of one thing, and that is, the beechnuts produced by one or many trees will always be acceptable to the children, and of these hungry mortals there is likely to be a few, at least, roaming about in ages to come, as in times past.
The beech is not really a desirable tree to plant on a lawn or near one's dwelling, because of its persistent foliage, which clings to the twigs very late in winter, and the rustling of the wind through the dry leaves is not soothing to one's nerves, although not quite as dismal as the moaning pines. In summer, and until late in autumn, the American beech is a noble and graceful tree,—and if I may be allowed the expression, one of the cleanest of trees; its large, thin, bright-green and glossy leaves retain none of the dust and cast-off material of other trees which may be floating through the air, but are ever bright and pure. The tree has naturally wide-spreading and somewhat drooping branches, and should be given plenty of room for development when planted for the nuts or as an ornamental tree. Its leaves and the small slender branchlets (Fig. 9) are eaten with avidity by all kinds of farm animals ; consequently, protection may be required until the trees have reached a hight to be safe from such depredators.
Beech seedlings do not usually come into bearing in less than twenty to thirty years, but as no one in this country has ever attempted to cultivate this tree for its