Field Trip to the Last Standing Beech Tree

I took a field trip this week to capture the fog and rain at Ely Lake Primitive Campground.

I walked the North Loop to the Beech Trail, a trail I have been walking now for fourteen years. I’ve walked that trail to visit and to document the last standing Beech tree.

Ely Lake white spacing jpeg w text

I call it The Grandfather Tree.

For me that tree is a metaphor for life and what we humans are doing to our environment…

I enjoy the quiet, the wildness and the peace I find there. Our Labrador Sassy loves to run and swim there. Ely Lake is magical place that I hope will be protected in the future from fracking.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

6 thoughts on “Field Trip to the Last Standing Beech Tree

  1. Pingback: Field Trip to the Last Standing Beech Tree | Small House Under a Big Sky

    • This is the last grove of beech trees in this area. Beach trees do not live very long as trees go They are tender and seem to rot much earlier than other trees. In my 64 years of traveling/hiking an exploring this state I have only seen two large stands of beech trees and both remaining stands are dying. Could be pollution, could be development, could be climate change, could be the lifespan of the trees themselves.To me the dying beeches are a metaphor for what men are doing to the environment and its not good.


      Beech trees are renown for their smooth grey bark (which lovers frequently engrave) and their massive straight and tall slightly fluted column-like trunks. Indeed, they remind one of the ancient Greek temple columns. However, despite their massive form, resembling sentries of stone, beech trees are not usually long lived by tree standards, 200 years being their usual life-spans, though they may live for over a thousand years if pollarded. One of the main reasons for their shorter lives is that they tend to have shallow roots and coupled
      with their massive trunks this makes them prone to windfall, especially when they grow on chalky slopes. It avoids extremely dry or extremely wet soils, but can grow well on most soils, but is often unable to out-compete oak, except on lime-rich chalky soils, acidic flint soils and acidic sandy soils and gravels. On most clay soils, oak out-competes the beech. More ancient beech trees often have hollow trunks, as do oaks and yews. Tree holes are an important part of
      the ecosystem since they support a variety of life. Rot holes form when bark is damaged, either by wind, animals or lightning or by pollarding, coppicing or pruning. Often, the tree will form scar tissue (calluses) which will slowly close over the wound, over many years, preventing infection, but sometimes fungi take root and rot the dead heartwood. Even if the wound closes over, fungi may have gotten inside and will slowly rot away the heartwood. This is fine for an old thick tree, since it loses weight and so is more stable in high winds and the
      fungi break down the heartwood and leave a nourishing compost inside the hollow trunk, into which trees grow roots down the inside of their trunks, top absorb and recycle the valuable nutrients released.



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