Tall and wide with unique smooth bark, the American beech is a sturdy tree that offers plenty of shade and grows in over half of the United States.
More detail: American beech’s Tree of the Month.
Dark green, simple and sparsely-toothed with small teeth
Male flowers borne on globose* heads hanging from a slender 1-inch stalk; female flowers borne on shorter spikes
Small, sharply-angled nut that are commonly borne in pairs in a soft-spined, four-lobed husk
Very slender, zigzag, and light brown in color
Very smooth with a silver-gray color
Quite rounded crown canopy
Usually 66 to 115 feet tall
Eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario in southeastern Canada, west to Wisconsin and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida in the United States
Leaves stay on well into fall and acquire a yellow-tan color; stays green in spring and summer
Grows best in moist, well-drained soil
Grows well in the shade; abundant in mature forests
Pests and Diseases
Beech bark disease, caused by a bark beetle and the fungus Nectria, is a major killer of American beech trees.
An American beech in Louisville, KY, has the inscription “D. Boone kilt a bar,” authenticated to have been carved in the late 18th century.
Beech nuts were one of the primary foods of the now-extinct passenger pigeon.
Beech bark disease has become a major killer of beech trees in the northeastern United States.