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American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) is a slow growing, moderate sized native tree (up to 70’ tall and 100’ wide) that is abundant in eastern forests. The tree is often recognized from a distance by its attractive gray bark. A tree with names or initials carved into its smooth bark is most likely to be a beach. It is also an act of vandalism that scars the tree for life. Other distinguishing features are long, pointed cigar shaped leaf buds that extend at a 45 degree angle from the twigs; pronounced leaf veins, each ending in a tooth on at leaf’s edge; and bright fall foliage accompanied by spine covered nuts. American beech is not often planted by homeowners as it is difficult to transplant, does not adapt well to urban areas, and the dense, above ground root system make it difficult to grow much beneath it. In contrast, European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is found commonly in trade, is smaller, and comes in many varieties, including purple leaved and weeping forms. American beech is a stately shade tree for larger areas such as parks. An attractive specimen was planted by the town three years ago off Oak Street near 305 Maple Ave (photo attached).

Oriental Bittersweet (celastrus orbiculatus) is a non-native, invasive vine with attractive fruit (photo attached showing leaves and immature fruit) that is widely spread by birds. It grows rapidly and densely in almost any soil. Once autumn leaves have fallen, the red and gold fruit entice the unknowing to bring cuttings into their homes to use in arrangements and later dispose of them where the vines will quickly grow. Bittersweet can grow to the top of most trees, which can then be killed by girdling or uprooted by the weight of the vines. According to University of Maryland Extension (https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/invasive-vine-groundcover-control), the plants should be cut and dug out before they fruit. This may have to be done repeatedly over several seasons for established plants. Once fruit appears, the stems need to be cut, bagged, and sent to a landfill. They should not be composted. The attached photo, taken recently, demonstrates the immature, rounded fruit.

Jay Everhart

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