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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.

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