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Native Plant of the Week: American Beech

Family: Fagaceae


Name: Fagus grandifolia - American Beech


Bloom Time: April - May


Flower: Yellow-Green


Soil Condition: Average, Moist


Light: Sun-Shade


Height: 50-80' tall and 40-80' wide


Native Range: Eastern North America


Zone: 3-9

Photos: Form, Prosser Pines Nature Preserve, NY (KMS Native Plants), Leaves (Katja Schulz, CC BY 2.0), Fall color (KMS Native Plants)


The American Beech is a beautiful native tree and one of my absolute favorites. It usually holds on to its leaves all winter, so it is easy to identify in the winter. It is typically slow-growing at 6-9" per year. It is monoecious, meaning male and female flowers on the same tree. This is a very important wildlife tree as it provides shelter and food for many critters. Beech nuts are ready to eat in September-October and are edible for people too. The bronze/copper/yellow foliage is absolutely stunning. Please do not carve into the trunks of the trees!


Maintenance: If necessary, prune in late winter or early spring. Beech leaf disease has become a major problem in New York State. For more information, please go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/120589.html.


Benefits: Deer-resistant, black walnut (juglone) tolerant, nuts are edible, host plant to the early hairstreak butterfly


Fun Facts: Beechnuts can be roasted, or used as a coffee substitute. The raw seed should not be consumed in large quantities.


Companion Plants: Athyrium filix-femina - Lady Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides - Christmas Fern, although not native, daffodil bulbs are lovely under a beech tree.


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