Plant DetailShow Menu

American Beech Fagus grandifolia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
FAG-us gran-dih-FOH-lee-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

The Fagus grandifolia, commonly called American beech, is native to eastern North America. It is a large deciduous tree typically growing to 60-80’ (less frequently to 120’) tall with a dense, upright-oval to rounded-spreading crown.  It is a low-branched tree with its mature trunk ranging from 2-3’ (less frequently 4’) in diameter.  This tree is slightly salt tolerant. Due to the shallow roots, it is difficult to grow plants under the American beech tree.  

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating. 

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves:   Fall    Bloom:  Spring     Fruit/Seed/Nut:  Fall

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Beech scale is an occasional problem on this tree.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves coarsely serrate, bristles at margin
  • Prickly brownish fruit; seeds trigonous
  • Parallel veins pierce margin
  • midrib and vein axils may have hairs on underside
  • Awl shaped bud

Deciduous tree usually 50-70' tall, can grow to 100-120', can be as wide as tall. Beautiful tree in a large area, not recommended for smaller landscapes - difficult to grow other plants or lawn underneath. Fall color is golden bronze and leaves often last into winter. Relatively slow growth rate. Prefers moist, well-drained, acid soil, intolerant of wet or compacted soil, prefers sun but will tolerate shade.

More information on Fagus.

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#birds#shade tree#songbirds#poisonous#wildlife plant#native tree#salt tolerant#tsc#ducks#park#playground#edible nuts#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#woodpeckers#children's garden#large spaces#bears#edible garden#Braham Arboretum#turkey#fantz#food source fall
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#birds#shade tree#songbirds#poisonous#wildlife plant#native tree#salt tolerant#tsc#ducks#park#playground#edible nuts#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#woodpeckers#children's garden#large spaces#bears#edible garden#Braham Arboretum#turkey#fantz#food source fall
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Fagus
    Species:
    grandifolia
    Family:
    Fagaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Shade tree. This tree was used by Native Americans for building materials, medicine, and food.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada to Central Mexico
    Distribution:
    ME to FL west to TX, OK, MI, IL, MI, and MN east through midwest
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The nuts are eaten by small mammals, white-tailed deer, black bears, foxes, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, ducks, woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, American crows and blue jays.
    Play Value:
    Screening
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Break
    Edibility:
    Nutmeats, in small quantities, edible raw or cooked.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 60 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 40 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Nut
    Fruit Description:
    Nuts are irregularly triangular, shiny brown and edible. 3/4" long, globose and orange, with recurved prickles, housing a 3 winged nut. Season for fruit is October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    Monoecious yellowish green flowers bloom in early spring on the American beech. It's male flowers form in drooping, long-stemmed, globular clusters and the female flowers in short spikes. Female flowers give way to triangular nuts enclosed by spiny bracts. Beechnuts ripen in fall and are edible.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate simple elliptical to oblong-ovate 2.5-5.5 inch long pinnately-veined leaf. Simple, alternate, ovate-oblong, 2-5" long, half as wide, acuminate tip, coarsely serrate, dark green and glossy above, lighter green below, sometimes tomentose along the midrib and in vein axils on underside. Parallel veins pierce the margin; little bristles on the margin.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Trunks have distinctive thin, smooth, gray bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Somewhat zig-zag, grayish, shiny. Awl-shaped, imbricate, 3/4-1" long and slender, shiny, pointy.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Stomach irritation.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Saponic glycoside.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits