Fagus grandifolia
Common name: 
American Beech
FA-gus gran-di-FO-li-a
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf deciduous tree, 50-70(120) ft [15-21(37) m] tall, spreading, width may equal or be somewhat less than the height, short trunk, stately.  Bark thin, smooth blue-gray.  Buds large (2-2.5 cm long), pointed.  Leaves simple, alternate, 5-13 cm long, acuminate apex (pointed), parallel veins, 9-14 pairs (F. sylvatica has 5-9 pairs), each ending in a small tooth, glossy dark green above; petiole about 0.5 cm long, smooth.  Flowers open as leaves are expanding, male and female types on the same tree, male (staminate, pollen) in greenish-yellow, ball-like heads about 2.5 cm in diameter, on 5 cm stalks, female (pistilate, seed) usually in reddish-brown, 2-flowered clusters on short stalks, about 1.5 cm long.  Fruit has a prickly reddish-brown husk (involucre), 2 cm long, opening into 4 parts, usually revealing a pair of nuts, each shaped like a 3-sided pyramid, about 20 mm long, edible, the "beechnut".   Fruit of F. grandifolia is smaller and its leaves have more veins (9-14 pairs vs. 5-9 pairs) than the more common landscape species, F. sylvatica.
  • Best in full sun, but will withstand part shade.  Robust in well-drained, moist acid soil; will not stand compaction.  It is difficult to grow turf under it because of its shallow root system.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3      Native range from New Brunswick to Ontario, south to Florida and Texas.
  • grandifolia: from the Latin grandis, large, and folium, leaf
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • leaves


  • leaves and buds

    leaves and buds

  • leaves, comparison

    leaves, comparison

  • leaf and margin (May), comparison

    leaf and margin (May), comparison

  • male and female flowers

    male and female flowers

  • leaves and fruit

    leaves and fruit

  • leaves and fruit

    leaves and fruit

  • young trees in habitat, fall

    young trees in habitat, fall

  • leaves, fall

    leaves, fall

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • winter buds, comparison

    winter buds, comparison

  • winter bud

    winter bud