Fagus grandifolia Fagaceae
American Beech FA-gus gran-di-FO-li-a
- Broadleaf deciduous tree, 50-70(120) ft [15-21(37) m] tall, spreading, width may equal or be somewhat less than the height, short trunk, stately. Bark thin, smooth blue-gray. Buds large (2-2.5 cm long), pointed. Leaves simple, alternate, 5-13 cm long, acuminate apex (pointed), parallel veins, 9-14 pairs (F. sylvatica has 5-9 pairs), each ending in a small tooth, glossy dark green above; petiole about 0.5 cm long, smooth. Flowers open as leaves are expanding, male and female types on the same tree, male (staminate, pollen) in greenish-yellow, ball-like heads about 2.5 cm in diameter, on 5 cm stalks, female (pistilate, seed) usually in reddish-brown, 2-flowered clusters on short stalks, about 1.5 cm long. Fruit has a prickly reddish-brown husk (involucre), 2 cm long, opening into 4 parts, usually revealing a pair of nuts, each shaped like a 3-sided pyramid, about 20 mm long, edible, the "beechnut". Fruit of F. grandifolia is smaller and its leaves have more veins (9-14 pairs vs. 5-9 pairs) than the more common landscape species, F. sylvatica.
- Best in full sun, but will withstand part shade. Robust in well-drained, moist acid soil; will not stand compaction. It is difficult to grow turf under it because of its shallow root system.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 3 Native range from New Brunswick to Ontario, south to Florida and Texas.
- grandifolia: from the Latin grandis, large, and folium, leaf.
- Oregon State Univ. campus: northeast of Langton Hall, compare to the Fagus sylvatica to the east (Waldo Hall).