Introduction to the American Beech Tree:
American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is the only species of beech tree in North America. Before the glacial period, beech trees flourished over most of North America. The American beech is now confined to the eastern United States. The slow-growing beech tree is a common, deciduous tree that reaches its greatest size the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and may attain ages of 300 to 400 years.
The American Beech Tree Range:
American beech is found within an area from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia west to Maine, southern Quebec, southern Ontario, northern Michigan, and eastern Wisconsin; then south to southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri, northwestern Arkansas, southeastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas; east to northern Florida and northeast to southeastern South Carolina. A variety exists in the mountains of northeastern Mexico.
The Strickingly Beautiful American Beech Tree:
American beech is a "strikingly handsome" tree with tight, smooth and skin-like light gray bark. You often see Beech trees in parks, on campuses, in cemeteries and larger landscapes, usually as an isolated specimen. Beech tree bark has suffered the carver's knife through the ages - from Virgil to Daniel Boone, men have marked territory and carved the tree's bark with their initials.
Identification of American Beech:
The deciduous American beech is a large tree, often 50 to 70 feet tall. American beech spreads out in unique form and is often the only tree seen in the forest with yellow-brown leaves in the dead of winter. Winter beech buds are slender and one of the longest tree buds in the forest.
The pale gray beech tree bark is extremely smooth and the muscular roots that seem almost creature-like. The beech tree nut is small and encased within a prickly husk and a major source of food for many wildlife species.
Pests that Attack American Beech:
The American beech, on a good site, is tolerant of most tree diseases but can have a problem with insects like borers such as the flat-headed appletree borer or two-lined chestnut borer. These insects bore into trees weakened by stress and introduce damaging pathogens. Inspections of trunk and branches are suggested for early detection of beech scales.
Beech trees can be severely damaged by late spring frosts and are subject to frost cracks in regions with low winter temperatures. Cold weather damage often occurs on trees located in the northern portion of the tree's range.
Uses of American Beech:
Beech wood is excellent for turning and steam bending. It wears well, is easily treated with preservatives, and is used for flooring, furniture, veneer, and containers. Beech wood is especially favored for fuelwood because of its high density and good burning qualities. The distinctive triangular nuts can be eaten or used as a flavoring by humans and are an important food for wildlife