American Beech


American Beech

Fagus grandifolia


  • deciduous tree, up to 115 ft. tall
  • smooth, gray bark
  • leaves are shiny, bright green, toothed, 11-14 veins
  • produces a mast of triangular nuts which have spiny, woody shells
  • easy winter twig identification – alternate buds gives twigs a zigzag appearance, buds are long and light brown


  • found in Eastern North America
  • tolerates shade
  • found in mixed stands with species such as sugar maple, yellow birch and hemlock; sometimes found in pure stands

Disease Issues

  • many beech suffer from beech bark disease
  • caused by the beech scale insect, Cryptococcus fagisuga, which feeds on the beech bark creating a tiny wound in the bark
  • this wound allows the tree to become infected by two Nectria fungi
  • this disease causes the trunk of the tree to become very deformed and eventually kills the tree

Cool Facts

  • the nuts of the beech trees are a favorite food of many animals from birds to many mammals such as squirrels and chipmunks
  • the passenger pigeon primarily fed on the beech nut and clearing of beech and oak forest contributed to its extinction
This entry was posted in Nature Notes.