Carving Initials
Monday, March 29, 2010 at 9:51AM

It seems that when people want to carve their initials - or their girlfriend's initials - into a tree they always choose an American Beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.). There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, beech bark stays smooth and tight throughout the life of the tree and offers a good surface to carve on. Second, the vascular cambium of this species behaves in such a way that the radial and longitudinal growth of the stem occur at similar rates, i.e. the initials you carve keep their shape over time as the tree grows. There is an upside and a downside to this. Your initials are prominently displayed for the life of the tree, but the carving may outlive the relationship with your girlfriend. Wonder if Amy and Rob are still together? [NOTE: Fagus trees may live for several hundred years; image was shot in Saxon Woods Park, NY (see In Praise of Northern Hardwood Forests)].

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