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Fagus grandifolia - Ehrh.

Common Name American Beech
Family Fagaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Large quantities of the raw seed may be toxic[159].
Habitats Rich uplands and mountain slopes, often forming nearly pure forests[82]. In the south of its range it is also found on the margins of streams and swamps[43, 82].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Florida, west to Texas and Ontario.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Fagus grandifolia American Beech

Fagus grandifolia American Beech


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Bloom Color: Unknown. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Pyramidal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Fagus grandifolia is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from October to November. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.



Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark;  Leaves;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Coffee;  Oil;  Oil.

Young leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[183]. A very nice mild flavour but the leaves quickly become tough so only the youngest should be used. New growth is usually produced for 2 periods of 3 weeks each year, one in spring and one in mid-summer. Seed - raw or cooked. Small but very sweet and nutritious[82, 117, 171, 183, 227], it is sold in local markets in Canada and some parts of America[82]. Rich in oil, the seed also contains up to 22% protein[213]. The raw seed should not be eaten in large quantities since it is believed to cause enteritis[159, 226]. It can be dried and ground into a powder, then used with cereal flours in making bread, cakes etc[183]. The germinating seeds can be eaten raw, they are tender, crisp, sweet and nutty[183]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[183, 213]. An edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[177, 183]. Inner bark[177]. Dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread[213].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Pectoral;  Skin;  Vermifuge.

A decoction of the boiled leaves has been used as a wash and poultice to treat frostbite, burns, poison ivy rash etc[213, 222, 257]. The nuts have been eaten as a vermifuge[222, 257]. A tea made from the bark has been used in the treatment of lung ailments[222, 257]. It has also been used to procure an abortion when the mother was suffering[257].

Other Uses

Charcoal;  Oil;  Oil;  Wood.

The oil obtained from the seed has been used as a fuel in oil lamps[226]. Wood - strong, hard, heavy, very close grained, not durable, difficult to cure[61, 82, 227]. It weighs 43lb per cubic foot[227]. Harvested commercially, it is used for furniture, flooring, tool handles, crates etc[227]. It makes an excellent charcoal and is used in artwork[61, 227].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Firewood, Pest tolerant, Hedge, Aggressive surface roots possible, Screen, Specimen, Woodland garden. Thrives on a light or medium soil[11], doing well on chalk[1], but ill-adapted for heavy wet soils[1]. Young trees are very shade tolerant, but are subject to frost damage so are best grown in a woodland position which will protect them[200]. Although very cold hardy, this species requires hotter summers than are normally experienced in Britain so is not usually a success here and is very slow growing[200]. The seeds are dispersed after the first frosts[227], they are sometimes gathered and sold in local markets in N. America[82, 227]. Good crops are produced every 2 - 3 years in the wild[227]. This species produces suckers[11] and often forms thickets in the wild[227]. Trees have surface-feeding roots and also cast a dense shade, this greatly inhibits the growth of other plants and, especially where a number of the trees are growing together, the ground beneath them is often almost devoid of vegetation[226, 227]. Special Features: North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.


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Seed - the seed has a short viability and is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Protect the seed from mice. Germination takes place in the spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seedlings are slow growing for the first few years and are very susceptible to damage by late frosts. The seed can also be sown in an outdoor seedbed in the autumn. The seedlings can be left in the open ground for three years before transplanting, but do best if put into their final positions as soon as possible and given some protection from spring frosts.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Epifagus virginianaBeechdrops00
Fagus crenataJapanese Beech20
Fagus japonicaJapanese Beech20
Fagus longipetiolata 20
Fagus lucida 20
Fagus orientalisOriental Beech20
Fagus sylvaticaBeech, European beech, Common Beech42
Nothofagus betuloides 00
Nothofagus cunninghamiiMyrtle Beech00
Nothofagus fuscaRed Beech00
Nothofagus menziesiiSilver Beech00
Nothofagus obliquaRoblé, Roble beech00
Nothofagus proceraRauli00
Nothofagus pumilioLenga10
Nothofagus solanderiBlack Beech00
Nothofagus solanderi cliffortioidesMountain Beech00


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Readers comment

David Beaulieu   Tue Jan 10 2006

American Beech Trees Information for homeowners about growing American beech trees.

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