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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

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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