American beech is a majestic tree species and one of the most remarkable trees of eastern North America, where it forms dense groves in deciduous forests. A tall, massive tree, the American beech can grow to more than 80 feet tall, providing dense shade. The American beech has a beautiful silvery gray bark, the nicest coloration of all the beeches. The deciduous leaves are oval and pointed, toothed on the edges. They are dark green in summer, turn golden-bronze in fall, and often persist much of the winter. The small, edible nuts are protected by a prickly outer coating.
How to grow: The American beech does best in full sun but tolerates partial shade. It likes relatively moist, well-drained soil.
Uses: The size of this tree limits its use to large properties, where it quickly becomes the focal point. It is a huge and domineering tree, and its dense shade and shallow roots eliminate all competition.
Related species: The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) has smaller leaves and darker gray bark and is less hardy. The purple-leaved beech is called F. s. Atropunicea or Purpurea. The copper-leaved beech is F. s. Cuprea and has leaves of a lighter shade of purple.
Scientific name: Fagus grandifolia