American Beech – Fagus grandifolia

American beech tree

This genus, the beeches, are restricted to forests of the Northern Hemisphere. Of the 10 known species, Fagus grandifolia is the only one native to North America, and is specific to the eastern region. The American Beech is a medium-sized tree: 60’ to 80’ in height and 2’ to 3’ in diameter. In the open, it branches fairly close to the ground and forms a large, open, spreading crown. By contrast, in the forest, it is straight, supports a small, narrow crown, and shallow root system.

The leaves are dark green with dentate margin, and are often found clustered at the ends of the branchlets. Fruits are 3-angled nuts, usually 2 in 4-parted burs covered with spines. The nuts contain a high percentage of oil and are an important source of food for many species of wildlife, including birds, several rodents, and bears.

American Beech is economically important, producing a wood of many uses. With birch and maple it is used in the hardwood distillation industry to obtain charcoal, wood alcohol, and acetate of lime. The wood is hard and strong, used for: flooring, furniture, tool handles, veneers, furniture, and clothespins are among some of the common uses.