American Beech

From Academic Kids

American Beech
Conservation status: Secure
Missing image
Fagus_grandifolia_leaves.jpg



American Beech foliage
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Fagales
Family:Fagaceae
Genus:Fagus
Species:F. grandifolia

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

The American Beech Fagus grandifolia is a species of beech native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario in southeastern Canada, west to Wisconsin and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida in the United States. Trees in the southern half of the range are sometimes distinguished as a variety, F. grandifolia var. caroliniana, but this is not considered distinct in the Flora of North America. A related beech native to the mountains of central Mexico is sometimes treated as a subspecies of American Beech, but more often as a distinct species, Mexican Beech Fagus mexicana.

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IN_Hoot_Woods.jpg
American Beech forest at Hoot Woods, Indiana; note fall color and silvery trunks

It is a deciduous tree growing to 20-35 m tall, with smooth silvery-gray bark. The leaves are dark green, simple and sparsely-toothed with small teeth, 6-12 cm long (rarely 15 cm), with a short petiole. The winter twigs are very distinctive among North American trees, being long and slender (15-20 mm by 2-3 mm) with two rows of overlapping scales on the buds. The fruit is a small, sharply-angled nut, borne in pairs in soft-spined husks.

The American Beech is a shade tolerant species, favoring the shade more than other trees, commonly found in forests in the final stage of succession. Although sometimes found in pure stands, they are more often associated with Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, and Eastern Hemlock, typically on moist well drained slopes and rich bottomlands.

Uses

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Fagus_grandifolia.jpg
American Beech trunk

American Beech is an important tree in forestry. The wood is heavy, hard, tough and strong, and, until the advent of the modern chainsaw, during lumbering beech trees were often left uncut. As a result, many areas today still have extensive groves of old beeches that would not naturally occur. Today, the wood is harvested for uses such as flooring, containers, furniture, handles and woodenware.

It is sometimes planted as an ornamental tree, but (even within its native area) much less often than the European Beech; the latter species is faster-growing and somewhat more tolerant of difficult urban sites.

American Beech bark is an attraction for vandals who carve names, dates, and other material into it. One such tree in Louisville, Kentucky, in what is now the southern part of Iroquois Park, bore the legend "D. Boone kilt a bar" and the year in the late 1700s. This carving was authenticated as early as the mid-1800s, and the tree trunk section is now in the possession of The Filson Historical Society in Louisville.

References

"Native Trees of Canada", R.C. Hosie, Canadian Forestry Service, Ottawa, 1969

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