Landowner Fact Sheets

American beech Fagus grandifolia play

American beech is a long lived eastern deciduous tree, useful for its wood quality and production of nuts valuable to wildlife diets. Slow growing and very shade tolerant, American beech is a climax successional species.

range map Click to see more images. fall color wood grain

High shade tolerance and slow growth rate call for methods that provide some degree of canopy cover, such as shelterwood and group and single tree selections.

American beech is found on a wide variety of soils, but generally grows best on mesic sites.


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.

Timber Value
The dense wood is used in turning and steam bending, flooring, furniture, veneer, containers, plywood, pulp, charcoal, and fuelwood.

Wildlife Value
Triangular shaped beech nuts are eaten by a large variety of wildlife.
Attracts mice, squirrels, chipmunks, fox, a variety of birds, deer, bear

Insects and Diseases

Fun Facts
Beech is very shade tolerant, and assumes dominance on many northern hardwood sites in association with sugar maple and yellow birch. Older, large trees are often hollow and were once used commonly as culverts in road building. Beech bark disease causes significant mortality and defect. This “disease” is caused by an initial invasion by beech scale followed by infection with a fungus which can severely deform the bark and kill trees.

Latin Meaning
Fagus: Latin name from Greek "phagein" (to eat - edible nuts) / grandifolia: grand foliage

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Landowner Factsheets © 2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.