Beech seedlings have been appearing around the perimeter of the fields in the last two weeks in good numbers. It is not really surprising see as we had a large seed producing autumn on most tree species including beech. Good mast years only occur every few years with beech but the autumn of 2013 is one to remember.
Beech seeds are fairly heavy and there dispersal method is to just fall to the ground. This means that naturally occuring seedlings occur usually within 20 metres of the parent tree. Maybe due to the repeated strong winds of the autumn and winter the seeds may have travelled further than on most years.
Beech are one of the most easy to distinguish seedlings due to the pair of leaves which are known as Cotyledons.
Soon after the cotyledon appears, fresh green beech leaves appear.
These seedlings are under threat from being eaten by many species of animal from small mammals such as voles to the larger fallow deer. We have placed some rabbit spirals over some of these seedling to encourage them to get away. Also where a limb came off a tree during the winter storms of 2013/14 and fell into one of the fields we have decided to leave it in situ. This meant that the tree seeds could all stay in an area and also the branches will protect the seedlings from browsing deer.