Beech, also known as Fagus is a genus that includes ten species of deciduous trees, which belong to the family Fagaceae. Beech trees are native to the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. The species that is widely found in North America is known as American beech or Fagus grandifolia.
The American beech is a common tree found in the forests and woods of eastern part of the United States. This tree can live up to 400 years. It is the only beech tree species that is native to North America. The tree generally prefers moist soil, provided it is not waterlogged. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types.
Beech Tree Facts
It is not so difficult to identify a beech tree due to the presence of some prominent features. However, for proper identification, one should know some important characteristics of the tree like its size, the look of its bark and stem, the shape and size of the foliage and their pattern of arrangement, and the type of flower and fruit the tree produces. These are the key information that one should know for identifying any kind of tree. However, trees like beech, maple, and oak are always easy to identify due to their remarkable appearance.
Size of the Beech Tree
The average height of a beech tree is 80 feet, though many of these deciduous trees can grow to attain a height of 100 feet and more. The trunk diameter is generally 2 to 3 feet. Usually, the tree grows straight in its natural habitat to reach above the canopy of other trees in order to get sunlight. But if it happens to grow in a place inundated with sunlight, the trunk remains short, as the branching begins quite early. The roots of this tree are quite large.
Stem and Bark
One of the most attractive features of this tree, especially the American beech tree is its strikingly smooth and sleek bark, that can remain so even when the tree ages. This prominent characteristic makes it vulnerable to damage caused by people who love to carve their names on the bark. Such acts often ruin the beauty of this tree, and make it susceptible to insects and fungal infections. The color of the bark is usually light gray or bluish gray in color. The twigs are slender with alternating shoots, while the buds are pointed and scaled, and they are usually positioned at an angle from the twigs.
The leaves or foliage of this tree are usually oval-shaped, either entire or with serrated edges and short stalks. On the leaf margin, you can find some small teeth-like structures. The leaves of the tree are about 4 to 10 cm broad, and 5 to 15 cm long. They are found to be arranged alternately along the twigs. The color of the leaves is dark green, but they become brown or yellow in fall. This is another important characteristic that makes the identification of this tree so easy.
Flower and Fruit
The flowers are small and yellowish-green in color. The flowers are either male or female. The female flowers can be found in pairs, and they usually have red borders. The male flowers are yellow in color and they bloom in early spring. After pollination, the triangular-shaped fruits develop, which can be found as single or in groups of two to three fruits within a spiny husk. The husk splits when it dries out, and thereby releases the fruits. The fruits of this tree are edible. They are usually 10 to 15 mm long, and are known as 'beechmast' or beechnuts.
With their remarkable smooth bark, tall stature, and unique foliage and fruits, the beech tree stands out in the crowd of other deciduous trees. In fall, the tree becomes particularly striking with its brown or golden-yellow foliage, which not only makes it easily recognizable, but also an ideal tree for landscaping.