American beech trees are a ghostly presence in winter.  Their leaves persist until expansion of new buds pushes them off in early spring. 

Shade-tolerant, young beeches became established and persist as saplings in the understory of mixed hardwood forests in the Piedmont of the Southeastern U.S., and maybe elsewhere, too.

beeches near the old sawmill in the Schoenike Arboretum, SC Botanical Garden
In a mild winter, other hardwood species retain their leaves, too.  Ironwood (Carpinus caroliniana), also known as musclewood or American hornbeam, is a beech look-alike in winter guise this year along the stream in the botanical garden where I work, apart from the distinctive long buds signifying beech.


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