As I glance into the woods most of the trees are bare and stand stark against the crisp blue sky, save one. The golden bronze leaves of the American Beech tree are sprinkled throughout the understory layer of our property. These elegant trees are the glory of the midwinter wood, as flowering dogwoods and redbuds are to its spring.
The gracefully spreading form of the branches show off the movement of their handsome foliage, which at times appears a pale beige and others a rich taupe.
The furling leaves are inviting, like a tenderly wrapped shawl. The light plays off the trembling leaves as the arctic wind rustles these palomino colored leaves on a blustery day.
These trees hold fast to their dried leaves almost all winter long. Marcescent leaves are more common on smaller trees and sometimes on the lower branches of mature trees. Some speculate that retained leaves conceal buds and make it difficult for browsing animals, like deer, to nip twigs. Perhaps the leaves provide a bit of shelter for birds who perch puffed up, enduring the winter elements in a hardwood forest that stands undressed.
This winter I'm enjoy these brown leaves waving to me from the forest. They add much texture, color and movement to an otherwise sleepy wood.