- Common Name(s):
- American beech, Beech
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Trees
The Fagus grandifolia, commonly called American beech, is native to eastern North America. It is a large deciduous tree typically growing to 50-80’ (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. Trunks have distinctive thin, smooth, gray bark. This tree is slightly salt tolerant. Due to the shallow roots, it is difficult to grow plants under the American beech tree.
Regions: Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains
Seasons of Interest:
Leaves: Fall Bloom: Spring Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall
Wildlife Value: The American beech is moderately deer resistant. 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: Wind Screen & Buffers; Wildlife Enhancement
Wildlife Value: Seeds are a food source for birds.
Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Beech scale is an occasional problem on this tree.
Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating.
- 50-80 ft.
- Monoecious yellowish green flowers bloom in April-May 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.
- The American beech tree is best grown in deep, rich, moist but well-drained soils in shade to part shade. It is intolerant of wet, poorly drained soils. It is difficult to transplant and does not always grow well in urban settings. In the wild, beeches often form thickets or colonies by suckering from the shallow roots.
- Dense; broad with wide spreading crown
- Part shade, shade
- North America
- Poison Part:
- Unripe , raw nuts (seeds).
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Stomach upset.
- EDIBLE PARTS: Nutmeats, in small quantities, edible raw or cooked. Young leaves can be cooked for greens in the spring. SAFE HAN
- Toxic Principle:
- Saponic glycoside.
- CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN.
- Found in:
- Forest or natural area in rich woods; landscape as cultivated tree.
- 40-60 ft.
- Growth Rate:
- The American beech leaf is a 2-5 in. alternate, simple leaf with a singly toothed margin. The ovate to elliptic dark green leaves (up to 5" long) have coarse, widely-spaced marginal teeth and prominent parallel veins, each vein ending at the tip of a marginal tooth. They turn a golden brown color in the fall. The foliage on young trees remains in the winter.
NCCES plant id: 1993