American beech Fagaceae Fagus grandifolia
Leaf:Alternate, simple, elliptical to oblong-ovate, 2 1/2 to 5 1/2 inches long, pinnately-veined, 11-14 pairs of veins, with each vein ending in a sharp distinct tooth, shiny green above, very waxy and smooth, slightly paler below.
Flower:Species is monoecious; male flowers borne on globose heads hanging from a slender 1 inch stalk, female flowers borne on shorter spikes, appearing just after leaves in the spring.
Fruit:Nuts are irregularly triangular, shiny brown and edible, found in pairs within a woody husk covered with spines, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, maturing in the fall.
Twig:Very slender, zigzag, light brown in color; buds are long (3/4 inch), light brown, and slender, covered with overlapping scales (best described as "cigar-shaped"), widely divergent from the stems, almost looking like long thorns.
Bark:The bark is smooth, thin, and gray in color even on the largest stems. Beech bark diseases severely deforms the smooth bark.
Form:A medium to large tree up to 100 feet tall with a rounded crown. Often found in thickets produced by root suckering. Old trees may be surrounded by a ring of young beech.