American Beech Tree
American Beech Tree
American Beech - Fagus grandifolia Beech Family (Fagaceae)

American beech is a distinctive and elegant forest tree in Kentucky and throughout eastern North America. In early spring new leaves emerge from buds as feathery tassels.1

Winter, however, emphasizes this tree’s other notable attributes – its long, thin, pointed, brown leaf buds and its smooth, thin, light gray, “wrinkled” bark that resembles an elephant’s hide.1

Most beech seeds are eaten when they mature by one of a number of wildlife species that rely on them as a food source. Passenger pigeons, before their extinction, were among those species. The pigeons were known to converge upon beech groves in such large numbers that their weight would frequently break large limbs.1

American beech wood was used as a source of fuel for their large, open fireplaces. It is now used to make household items such as wooden kitchen utensils and clothespins. Pioneers used beech leaves to stuff mattresses. Beech ashes were used to make soap.1

Huge forests of American beech were thriving in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and central Michigan when colonists arrived.1

You may identify an American beech by its bark. The light bluish-gray exterior, which has a slight resemblance to an elephant’s legs or trunk, remains fairly smooth as the tree ages. Also if you see initials carved into a tree there is a good chance it’s an American Beech.2