=Habitat and Range.=--Moist, rocky soil.
Nova Scotia through Quebec and Ontario.
Maine,--abundant; New Hampshire,--throughout the state; common on the
Connecticut-Merrimac watershed, enters largely into the composition of
the hardwood forests of Coos county; Vermont,--abundant;
Massachusetts,--in western sections abundant, common eastward;
Rhode Island and Connecticut,--common.
South to Florida; west to Wisconsin, Missouri, and Texas.
=Habit.=--A tree of great beauty, rising to a height of 50-75 feet, with
a diameter at the ground of 1-1/2-4 feet; under favorable conditions
attaining much greater dimensions; trunk remarkably smooth, sometimes
fluted, in the forests tall and straight, in open situations short and
stout; head symmetrical, of various shapes,--rounded, oblong, or even
obovate; branches numerous, mostly long and slender, curving slightly
upward at their tips, near the point of branching horizontal or slightly
drooping, beset with short branchlets which form a flat, dense, and
beautiful spray; roots numerous, light brown, long, and running near the
surface. Tree easily distinguishable in winter by the dried
brownish-white leaves, spear-like buds, and smooth bark.
=Bark.=--Trunk light blue gray, smooth, unbroken, slightly corrugated in
old trees, often beautifully mottled in blotches or bands and invested
by lichens; branches gray; branchlets dark brown and smooth; spray
shining, reddish-brown; season's shoots a shining olive green,
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds conspicuous, long, very slender,
tapering slowly to a sharp point; scales rich brown, lengthening as the
bud opens. Leaves set in plane of the spray, simple, alternate, 3-5
inches long, one-half as wide, silky-pubescent with fringed edges when
young, nearly smooth when fully grown, green on both sides, turning to
rusty yellows and browns in autumn, persistent till mid-winter; outline
oval, serrate; apex acuminate; base rounded; veins strong, straight,
terminating in the teeth; leafstalk short, hairy at first; stipules
slender, silky, soon falling.
=Inflorescence.=--May. Appearing with the leaves from the season's
shoots, sterile flowers from the lower axils, in heads suspended at the
end of silky threads 1-2 inches long; calyx campanulate, pubescent,
yellowish-green, mostly 6-lobed; petals none; stamens 6-16; anthers
exserted; ovary wanting or abortive: fertile flowers from the upper
axils, usually single or in pairs, at the end of a short peduncle;
involucre 4-lobed, fringed with prickly scales; calyx with six
awl-shaped lobes; ovary 3-celled; styles 3.
=Fruit.=--A prickly bur, thick, 4-valved, splitting nearly to the base
when ripe: nut sharply triangular, sweet, edible.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; grows well in any
good soil, but prefers deep, rich, well-drained loam; usually obtainable
in nurseries; when frequently transplanted, safely moved. Its clean
trunk and limbs, deep shade, and freedom from insect pests make it one
of the most attractive of our large trees for use, summer or winter, in
landscape gardening; few plants, however, will grow beneath it; the bark
is easily disfigured; it has a bad habit of throwing out suckers and is
liable to be killed by any injury to the roots. Propagated from the
seed. The purple beech, weeping beech, and fern-leaf beech are
well-known horticultural forms.
1. Winter buds.
2. Flowering branch.
3. Sterile flower.
4. Fertile flower.
5. Fruiting branch.
6. Section of fruit.
=Castanea sativa, var. Americana, Watson and Coulter.=
Castanea dentata, Borkh. Castanea vesca, var. Americana, Michx.