Photos by BarrytheBirder
This very attractive Beech tree is located in the Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve parking area, in King Township, east of Newmarket and south of the Holland Marsh community of Ansnorveldt. The tree graces a former homesite where it was allowed to grow in its own space, with little or no competition. This meant it could horizontally. Normally a Beech would grow in a tall fashion to 60'-80', but this is not the case here. This tree has grown to typical Beech girth however, of almost 3', and it has the distinctive smooth gray bark that I always think looks like elephant skin. Beech is known for hanging on to its leaves late into the fall, which certainly is the case with this specimen. My Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide remarks that Beech was an important timber species, but not for the quality of the wood. Rather, it was traditionally and extensively used to make cheap furniture, tool handles, veneer, shoe lasts, and fuel. Its ecological significance, however, is the importance of its fruit to ruffed grouse, wild turkey, bobwhite, pheasant, black bear, raccoon, red and grey foxes, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, many squirrels, porcupine and oppossum. Near to this beech is a young Sugar Maple, which was planted to honour acclaimed Canadian authors and naturalists Margaret Atwood and her husband Graeme Gibson (see plaque photo below). The Cawthra Mulock site is operated by Ontario Nature ( formerly Federation of Ontario Naturalists) and many of the tree plantings and site enhancements have been noted with markers such as this one. The site can be reached from either Bathurst or Dufferin Streets (parking lot at both locations) 1/4 mile north of Millers Sideroad.
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