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American Beech


American Beech Tree
Easily confused with a European beech, the American beech can be distinguished by its spiky fruits, found singly or in twos or threes (whereas the fruits of the European beech are found only singly on the branches). Both beech trees have beautiful, smooth grey bark, somewhat reminiscent of an elephant’s skin. These trees trace their roots to the tropics, and the smooth skin helped keep the trees from becoming covered in epiphytes, clinging plants commonly known as "air plants." As the trees grow, their bark sheds particles, almost like sawdust, rather than creating plates or furrows like so many other trees. American beech reproduce most readily by sending up saplings from their roots, therefore some stands of beech contain almost entirely genetically identical trees. Don't miss the beautiful golden color of the American beech in fall.

Common Name: American Beech

Scientific Name: Fagus grandifolia

Origin: Eastern North America, from New Brunswick to Florida

Family: Fagaceae

Size: 50 - 70' tall, up to 120' wide

Form: Wide spreading, more upright shape assumed in crowded conditions

Culture: Moist, well-drained acidic soil; shallow, wide root system; thrives in full sun

Leaves

Alternate arrangement; simple, smooth, serrate leaves; 11-15 vein pairs; colors: glossy, dark green above, light green below, golden bronze in fall

Flower

Not ornamentally important, bloom in April or early May

Fruit

Three-winged nut enclosed in a spiky involucre (small rosette of irregular leaves), found singly or in twos or threes

Bark

Light gray, smooth yet wrinkled appearance resembling an elephant's skin