Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.
- Family: Beech (Fagaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: This tree is distinguished by its smooth gray trunk, its long-pointed winter
buds, and its soft prickly fruits containing 1-3 triangular nuts.
- Habitat: Rich woods, less common in drier woods.
- Habit: Tree up to 100 feet tall, the trunk up to 4 feet in diameter, with a broad, widely spreading, rounded crown; bark smooth, gray, thin.
- Twigs: Gray or yellowish, slender, smooth, more or less zigzag; leaf scars half round, alternate, with 3 bundle scars; buds slender, narrow, long-pointed, smooth, reddish brown, up to 3/4 inch long.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, obovate to oblong, pointed at the tip, rounded or tapering to the asymmetrical base, coarsely toothed along the edges, up to 4 inches long, up to 2 1/2 inches wide, smooth and shiny on the upper surface, smooth or slightly hairy on the lower surface; leaf stalk very short.
- Flowers: Male and female borne separately on the same tree, appearing after the leaves have unfolded, the male in numerous, small, spherical, pendulous heads, the female in groups of 2.
- Sepals: 4-8, united below, minute.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 8-16.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior.
- Fruits: Soft-spiny burs up to 3/4 inch long, reddish brown, containing 1-3 triangular nuts.
- Notes: The wood may be used for fuel, chairs, and tool handles.The nuts are edible by humans and wild animals. In the northeastern states this species is under attack by a fungus. The American beech variety caroliniana has a wetter indicator status.
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