American Beech Tree

Botanical Name: Fagus grandifolia

The American Beech tree is one of the major trees that makes up the deciduous hardwood forests in eastern North America, along with maples and oaks, among others. 

Also known as Fagus grandifolia, this upright tree grows to a height of 50-80 feet and a width of 40-80 feet. Its growth habit is open and spreading with a rounded or oval canopy.

The American Beech tree has distinctive, smooth gray bark. Its flowers are a greenish-white color, and they appear in mid to late spring. The male flowers are clustered together and pendulous. The female flowers are more upright and are displayed in spikes. The beech nut follows the female flowers in fall. They are a triangular shape and covered in a spiny protective covering. The nuts are produced every 2 to 3 years. These are edible to wildlife and attract animals and birds to the tree. 

Grandifolia means ‘large leaves.’ The American Beech leaves are up to 5 inches long, with shiny, dark green, oval or elliptical leaves. They have distinctive parallel venation and coarsely toothed margins. Fagus grandifolia puts on a wonderful fall display with the leaves turning golden and bronze colors late in the season.

The American Beech tree dislikes being transplanted, so after planting out as a young tree, it is best to leave it growing in the same location. This tree holds its leaves until late into the fall and winter, making it a useful tree to plant as a hedge. It also has a low branching structure that contributes to its hedging qualities.


Height: 50-80 ft.

Width: 40-80 ft.

Shape: Oval/Rounded

Flower Color: Yellowish-green

Flowering time: April-May

Fall Color: Golden bronze

Features: Dense shade, attractive fall color, holds onto leaves late into the fall/winter

Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

Watering: Moderate & Regular

Soil: Prefers deep, rich, moist and well-drained soils. Intolerant of wet, heavy soils.

Growth Rate: Moderate

USDA Zones: 3-9

Uses: Lawn tree, shade tree, park tree, hedging tree, larger woodland landscapes, wildlife landscapes

Similar trees: Fagus sylvatica (European Beech), Fagus sylvatica 'Rivers Purple' (River's Purple Beech)