Fagus grandifolia

American Beech




  • native to eastern North America, from New Brunswick to Florida
  • zone 4

Habit and Form

  • a wide-spreading, deciduous tree
  • trunk is short and branches generally touch ground
  • 50' to 70' tall and up to 120' wide
  • if tree is in crowded conditions, tree will assume a more upright habit
  • slow growth rate
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • simple, serrate leaves
  • glossy dark green leaf above & light green below
  • leaves are glabrous on underside with tufts of hair in the axils of the veins & along midrib
  • 11 - 15 vein pairs

Autumn Foliage

  • fall color is bronze
  • very attractive
  • leaves tend to persist through winter


  • monoecious
  • usually flowers in April or Early May
  • not ornamentally important


  • three-winged nut
  • nut is enclosed in a spiky involucre
  • spikes are recurved
  • found singly or in 2 & 3's
  • edible
  • persist into winter


  • light gray bark
  • smooth
  • wrinkled appearance to bark


  • transplant during dormant season
  • moist, well-drained, acidic soil
  • does not like excessively wet soils
  • full sun best
  • shallow, wide root system
  • prune in early summer or early fall

Landscape Use

  • naturalized areas
  • large open spaces
  • lawn tree
  • parks
  • golf courses


  • branches generally touch ground
  • grass tends not to grow under tree
  • does not like wet soils
  • tends to sucker
  • fruit can be a litter problem
  • few minor pest problems including: powdery mildew, aphids, canker, and beech bark disease

ID Features

  • serrated leaf margins
  • smooth, gray wrinkled bark
  • dead leaves persist on tree through winter
  • tree is very wide and branches generally touch ground
  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • three-winged fruit with a spiky involucre


  • by seed


  • none

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.