Botanical Name: Fagus grandifolia
Common Name: American Beech
Origin: E. North America
Location: CSW, KN
Notable Feature: The grey, smooth bark makes it a common victim of graffiti artists. The most famous example is an authenticated carving found on a beech tree in Kentucky that read “D. Boone kilt a bar 1803.” A section of the trunk is viewable at the Louisville Filson Historical Society.
Habit: A sturdy, imposing, deciduous tree with a short trunk and a wide-spreading crown, reaching heights of 100 feet or more. It retains its smooth, thin, gray bark as it ages. In the wild it often roots suckers and forms wide-spreading thickets.
Flower: Monoecious. Male flowers borne on globose heads hanging from a slender 1” stalk. Female flowers borne on shorter spikes appearing just after leaves in the spring.
Fruit: Beechnuts are triangular, shiny brown, and enclosed in a spiny husk. The edible nuts are an important source of food for many wildlife species.
Foliage: The dark green leaf is simple, elliptical to oblong-ovate, 2 ½ to 5 ½” long. Fall color is a beautiful golden bronze and on the lower branches, the foliage persists into winter.
Interesting Fact: A sturdy, densely canopied tree, the American Beech was a sign of fertile soil to early settlers and was quickly removed so the plow could take over and farming for food could commence.