American Beech

American Beech aka.Common Beech
Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.
Family: Beech and Oak Family (Fagaceae)


Nova Scotia to Southern Ontario, Eastern Wisc., south to Texas, anf Northern Florida


mixed forests, hardwoord forests, well-drained soil, bottom lands


Companion Trees

maple, spruce, balsam fir, pine, hemlock, oak

Diseases/ Beech Blight

  • canker disease, caused by a fungus, can cause a blistered appearance on the bark
  • healthy bark is smooth


  • 2.5 cm
  • narrow/slender, long, lance-shaped, pointed
  • light brown
  • alternate on twig
  • join to shoot as a single bud (not paired)
  • numerous (8 or more) imbricate scales
  • apex has tiny hairs


  • new growth is green then turns reddish-brown by the end of the growing season
  • old growth is light gray
  • new growth has long hairs that are later lost
  • may zizag
  • lenticles are oblong and orange looking like spots on the shoot


  • long narrow stipule scars that encircle or almost encircle the twig
  • tough
  • young twigs are brown then turn gray

LeavesAmerican Beech Fagus grandifolia

  • 2.5-15 cm (1-6 in)
  • papery
  • oblong-ovate, egg shaped, elliptical, acuminate
  • glabrous except axils of veins on the underside
  • base: cuneate
  • margin: coarsely toothed with teeth curving inwards or spreading apart
  • teeth spaced widely apart
  • deciduous

Fall Foliage

  • golden yellow then brown, often persisting on the tree into the winter

Nuts/ Fruit

  • develops when female flower matures after fertilization by pollen from male catkins
  • September to October
  • 2 cm
  • small, triangular in cross-section
  • enclosed in 3/4″ bur-like prickly husk that opens when ripe into 4 parts
  • 1/2″ beechnuts
  • 2-3  three-sided nuts in husk
  • shiny brown
  • weak spines that don’t branch


  • greenish-yellow color male catkins have rounded clusters of stamens hanging pendent on 2.5 cm stalks
  • April-May
  • monoecious (male and female flowers on the same tree
  • female flowers are green; stigmas inside calyx with many hairs


  • woody on short pedunclcovered in hairs
  • 4 valves
  • covered with hairs
  • has recurved prickles


  • smooth
  • doesn’t crack as tree grows
  • light gray
  • elastic


  • 18-30 m (60-80 ft) (120′)


  • 60-90 cm (2-3 ft)


  • rounded, tight
  • branches spread and slightly drop

Edible Parts

  • the genus fagus comes from the greek word phagein, which means ” to eat”
  • early spring leaves (raw or cooked)
  • seeds/kernals within thin shelled nut raw or cooked in low quantities are high in oil and protein  content; described as delicious to bitter; large quantites should not be consumed because of the alkaloid in the covering
  • flour can be made by drying and grinding the seeds
  • roasted seeds/kernals as coffee substitute
  • sprouted seeds
  • oil from nuts for salad dressing, cooking, lamp oil

Food Web

  • pheasants, grouse, turkey, bobcat, bears, raccoons, deer, foxes, squirrel, rabbit, porcupine, opossum


timber: tool handles, cheap furniture, veneer

Other Characteristics

  • suckers can grow from roots
  • often forms stands



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