Beech Tree. This has to be one of the aristocrats of our native American trees. Dirr notes that J.U. Crockett spoke of this tree thus: "If the word noble had to be applied to only one kind of tree, the honor would probably go to the beech." Long known for its smooth gray bark which always tempts one to carve their initials in the trunk. Please, forbear! It is easily identified even when without foliage with its 1" long pointed buds. It has a pleasing yellow fall color which upon fading, the leaves turn a soft tan. And to me, its most endearing characteristic is these tan leaves which hang on all winter. There is nothing more glorious than to look through a deciduous forest in winter and see the Beeches interspersed with their tan leaves. Photos courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden.