American beech

Silhouette - American beech
  • Latin name: Fagus grandifolia Ehrn.
  • French name: Hêtre à grandes feuilles
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 19462
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf - American beech

Form

  • Deciduous, alternate, simple
  • Narrowly oval, tip long-pointed
  • Base wedge-shaped; leathery
  • Veins straight, parallel, 9–14 per side
  • Often remain on tree into winter

Length

  • 6–14 cm

Colour

  • Upper surface dark bluish-green
  • Lower surface lighter

Margin

  • Each vein ends in a tooth

Buds

  • Large lateral bud and leaf scar - American beech
  • Small lateral bud and leaf scar - American beech

Form

  • Terminal bud long
  • Lateral buds off-set above a leaf scar
  • Diverging widely from the twig
  • Toward tip of twig large, slender, pointed, short-stalked, with many scales in 4 rows
  • On basal part of twig very small, inconspicuous, stalkless
  • Bud scales arranged in 4 rows
  • Leaf scars semicircular with several indistinct vein scars

Length

  • Lateral buds toward tip of twig 15–25 mm

Colour

  • Scale tips brownish-grey

Twigs

  • Winter twig - American beech

Form

  • Slender, slightly zigzag

Colour

  • Light brown

Flowers

Form

  • Pollen flowers in ball-like clusters at the end of long pendulous stalks
  • Seed flowers in small clusters of 2–4 toward the shoot tip

Structure

  • Monoecious

Floral timing

  • As the leaves unfold

Fruits

  • Fruit husk (left); nut (right) - American beech

Form

  • Edible nuts
  • Usually in pairs within a bristly husk opening into 4 parts
  • Each nut a sharp 3-sided pyramid

Length

  • 18–22 mm

Colour

  • Husk reddish-brown

Timing

  • Ripen and shed in autumn

Seedlings

Form

  • Cotyledons fleshy, broad, notched
  • Raised 3–6 cm above the surface
  • First 2 true leaves opposite, 3–6 cm above the cotyledons
  • A terminal bud forms immediately above them

Colour

  • Upper surface green
  • Lower surface white

Bark

Form

  • Thin, smooth

Colour

  • Light bluish-grey, often mottled, darker with age

Wood

Texture

  • Heavy, hard, tough, strong, not durable

Colour

  • Light brown to reddish-brown

Morphology

  • Diffuse-porous, growth layers obvious
  • Rays of 2 sizes, the larger ones very conspicuous

Uses

  • Flooring, furniture, containers, handles, woodenware

Size

Height

  • To 25 m

Diameter

  • To 100 cm

Maximum age

  • 200 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - American beech

Open-grown

Trunk

  • Short, sinuous

Crown

  • Broad

Root system

  • Wide-spreading

Habitat

Site

  • Moist, well-drained slopes, rich bottomlands, often in climax forests

Light tolerance

  • Very shade-tolerant

Associated species

  • Sugar maple, yellow birch, eastern hemlock
Insects and diseases

Insects and diseases that are found most frequently and/or that cause the most damage in our Canadian forests.

Photos
  • American beech
  • American beech
  • American beech
  • American beech
  • American beech
  • American beech
  • American beech
Distribution map
Distribution map - American beech
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