Fagus grandifolia

Common Names: American beech, North American beech
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Beech

It is a deciduous tree growing to 20 to 35 m tall, with smooth, silver-gray bark. The leaves are dark green, simple and sparsely-toothed with small teeth that terminate each vein, 6 to 12 cm long, with a short petiole. The winter twigs are distinctive among North American trees, being long and slender (15 to 20 mm by 2 to 3 mm) with two rows of overlapping scales on the buds. Beech buds are distinctly thin and long, resembling cigars; this characteristic makes beech trees relatively easy to identify. The tree is monoecious, with flowers of both sexes on the same tree. The fruit is a small, sharply-angled nut, borne in pairs in a soft-spined, four-lobed husk. It has two means of reproduction: one is through the usual dispersal of seedlings, and the other is through root sprouts (new trees sprout from the roots in different locations).

Because the bark is very smooth, the tree is commonly used to carve initials or words, however this can potentially kill the tree since it can allow fungi or other pathogens to enter.

Found in mixed and deciduous forests as well as residential and urban areas. It is very common in Connecticut.

Edible Notes: The fruit of the beech tree, known as beechnuts, are small, roughly triangular and edible, with a bitter, astringent taste. It is not recommended to eat too many because they contain low concentrations of Trimethylamine, which is slightly toxic. Roasting both improves flavour and reduces the amount of Trimethylamine. Fresh from the tree, beech leaves can be eaten as a salad vegetable, as sweet as a mild cabbage though much softer in texture.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.