Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

American Beech

American Beech

Fagus grandifolia

Full to part sun; moist soils are a must; prefers rich, humusy loams but will grow on sandy loam, clay loam and medium loam; moderately acid to slightly acid pH.

50-70 feet height by 40-60 feet spread; yellow-green flowers in small, globular clusters of male blossoms and small spikes of female blossoms in April and May; winged, pyramidal nut in a prickly, ¾ inch diameter husk in fall.

Growth Rate: Slow and possibly medium in youth. Develops suckers from a vast system of surface roots and can sucker into groves.

Maintenance: Suffers from a variety of insect and disease problems but none particularly serious. Very sensitive to disturbance and soil compaction around the roots. Shallow roots and dense crown combine to make it difficult to grow anything under a beech.

Propagation: Seed germination code C(90) at 41 degrees F. in moist sand. Moderately difficult from seed.

Native Region: Statewide

One of the most majestic of our eastern trees. Sturdy, imposing tree with a wide-spreading crown and picturesque, drooping branches that often sweep the ground. Male and female flowers occur on separate trees.   Shallow roots generate many root sprouts which get their energy from the main trunk and can grow quite quickly. Often groves of beech are actually all linked to a single root system. Beautiful golden bronze color in fall. Easy to recognize in winter with its long, spiky leaf buds and smooth, silvery gray bark. This is a large tree for a large space.

Beechnuts are among the most important of wildlife foods. Attracts squirrels, deer, raccoons, bears, and other mammals as well as birds and butterflies. Larval host for Early Hairstreak butterfly.

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