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Fagus grandifolia

Common Name: American Beech
Fagus grandifolia
Fagus grandifolia

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Fagus
Species: Fagus grandifolia

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

American beech trees grow between 50 to 80 feet tall. Their bark is very smooth and gray in color. The bark reminds some people of elephant skin, and is an easy way to make a connection that helps with identification!

The leaves of beech trees are alternate and simple. They are coarse-toothed with straight veins. In the fall, they turn yellow then brown, and stay on the tree throughout the winter.

American Beech

Habitat & Range

American beech trees grow in moist soil with good drainage.

Life Cycle

The fruit, called beechnuts, are enclosed in 3/4" prickly brown burs. The nuts produced are eaten by many animals, including wild turkey.

These trees will also reproduce by “sucker shoots” growing off of the roots, creating large colonies growing from the same root system.

Beach Bark Disease

Beech bark disease is a combination of the beech scale insect and a fungi species. The beech scale insect lives on and feed off of the beech tree. It creates small holes in the bark to feed. With this new opening in the bark, the fungi moves in to infect the tree.

American Beech trees are easy to identify by their smooth grey bark. They provide nesting sites for several birds, and beech nuts are a critical food source for a wide variety of wildlife. They’re an important part of mature forests across the Northeast.

You can identify an infected beech tree by the white fluffy residue created by scales on the bark of a beech tree. Some trees in Smith Woods are infected with the disease. While there is no treatment for forests at this time, we continue to monitor the trees’ progression of the disease.

Featured image by James Dake.


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