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Fagus grandifolia

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Kemper Code:  A865

Common Name: American beech
Zone: 3 to 9
Plant Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Missouri Native: Yes
Native Range: Eastern North America
Height: 50 to 80 feet
Spread: 40 to 80 feet
Bloom Time: April - May  
Bloom Color: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Best grown in deep, rich, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Intolerant of wet, poorly drained soils. Difficult to transplant and does not always grow well in urban settings. In the wild, beeches often form thickets or colonies by suckering from the shallow roots.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Native to eastern North America, American beech is a large deciduous tree typically growing to 50-80 (less frequently to 120) tall with a dense, upright-oval to rounded-spreading crown. In Missouri, it occurs in rich woods of ravines, slopes and valleys only in the far southeastern corner of the state (Steyermark). It is a low-branched tree with its mature trunk ranging from 2-3 (less frequently 4) in diameter. Trunks have distinctive thin, smooth, gray bark. Ovate to elliptic dark green leaves (to 5 long) have coarse, widely-spaced marginal teeth and prominent parallel veins, each vein ending at the tip of a marginal tooth. Foliage turns golden bronze in fall. Monoecious yellowish green flowers bloom in April-May, the male flowers in drooping, long-stemmed, globular clusters and the female flowers in short spikes. Female flowers give way to triangular nuts enclosed by spiny bracts. Beechnuts ripen in fall and are edible.


No serious insect or disease problems. Beech scale is an occasional problem.


A large tree for a large space. Large lawns. Parks.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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