American Beech – An Unsung Hero

American beech Native Tree

American Beech – Fagus grandifolia

American Beech is possibly our country’s most elegant forest tree. The great American Beech is a Native Tree from Maine to Florida – to Eastern Texas north to Michigan and into southern Ontario Canada. American Beech is believed to have been native across the continental United States prior to the last ice Age.




These legacy trees are slow growing, adding 1-2’ annually and can reach 120’ tall. Generally, you will see them in the 50-70’ range. These wonderful specimen trees can have a spread of about 40-60’—in a native woodland setting, trees rarely grow wider than 40’ wide.

American Beech are hardy to zone 3 and grow well all the way to zone 9, these trees can tolerate shade and may be one of the best trees for shaded spaces.

American Beech Native Tree


American Beech are of high value, and are true legacy trees. Unfortunately, they are rare finds today.

These legacy trees can live for 300-400 years. Tree enthusiasts and novices are both humbled when standing beneath these trees of such great heritage. 

And get this! they’re tolerant of deer and of Black Walnut!


American Beechnuts are food for birds, deer, squirrels, etc! Beechnuts are produced each fall and ripen right on the tree. These triangular shaped nuts can also be pressed for cooking, lamp oils, and can be used as flour!

In your landscape, you’ll be fortunate to reap the benefits of beechnuts—wild turkeys enjoy them! The harvest is fast and furious! Learn more about which birds love this Native American Beech, here!

American Beech Native Tree


Yep! With no serious pests or diseases, this might explain the 400 Years of life expectancy for American Beech.

However, recent concerns have been identified for Beech Leaf Disease, a relatively new and still unnamed discovery of what might be causing some death of younger Beech Trees in particular. Still in research, enough to cause concern, but not alarm.


The smooth grey bark is easily recognized—and so very distinctive. Great loves of the past have been memorialized in its bark carvings for generations. 

With its golden bronze fall foliage, it is a true favorite of many through the winter months. Younger beech leaves never let go, and are so easily seen and enjoyed all the way through to spring when new emerging young leaves complete the release of last year’s foliage. It’s a truly beautiful process.


American Beech Native Tree



Early settlers quickly became aware that where populations of American Beech were formed, this generally indicated that the soil was best for farmland, healthy and vibrant. Many American Beech were harvested and cleared for farmland. Where American Beech grows well—so will corn.

American Beech grow in colonies, thickets or groves from shallow roots, making beautiful stands of these forest beauties. These trees are difficult to transplant. Always choose container grown Beech Trees over balled & burlap, survival will be enhanced and so will growth in the first couple of years.

Where to Plant American Beech

  • Woodland Settings
  • Shaded Landscapes
  • Hillsides
  • Property Markers
  • Legacy & Memorial Gardens

*Avoid Urban settings

How to Use American Beech in your Landscape

  • Native Tree – Specimen Tree – Focal Tree – Legacy Tree
  • Woodland Landscape – Use to create a Native Woodland Landscape
    • Plant in Groves, creating a beautiful outdoor woodland living space—and BONUS: a bird landscape!
  • Near your windows – enjoy the wildlife views!
  • Add to your wooded lot or create a wooded lot
  • Property Boundary Planting – large lots
  • Woodland Gardens – for example, plant them in a bed of Helleborus (Lenten Roses!)