Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont

Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White

Fagus grandifolia Ehrh. American beech, beech, gray beech, red beech, white beech. Synonyms Fagus grandifolia var. caroliniana (Loud.) Fern & Rehd. Family Fagaceae. ITIS Taxonomic Serial Number 19462. USDA PLANTS Symbol FAGR. TROPICOS # 13100023.

Images • Branchlet with leaves. • Individual leaf. • Branchlet with buds. • Close-up of bud. • Herbarium sheet 1. • Herbarium sheet 2. • Herbarium sheet 3. • Herbarium sheet 4.

Detailed Description:

Plant habit and life style. Plants Angiosperms, monoecious, (15–)20–30(–50) m tall.

Stems. Pith continuous. Young twigs (1-year-old or less) brown or green or olive-green or orange or red or reddish-brown or tan, glabrate or pubescent. Twigs (2–4 years old) glabrous or pubescent. Leaf scars half-round, bundle scars 3–9 per leaf scar, stipule scars present, stipule scars circumferential or not circumferential. Bark of mature trunks smooth.

Buds. Buds axillary or pseudoterminal or terminal, brown or reddish-brown, 10–25 mm long, fusiform or lanceoloid, sharp, pubescent, puberulent, bud scales imbricate.

Leaves. Leaves deciduous, simple, petiolate, alternate, 6–15 cm long, 2.5–8 cm wide, obovate or oval or ovate, leaf margins serrate or serrulate, leaf apices acuminate or acute, leaf bases cordate or cuneate or obtuse or rounded. Leaf upper surface blue-green or green, glabrous or glabrate. Leaf lower surface green or yellow-green, glabrate or pubescent or with tufts in vein axils, pilose or puberulent or villous. Leaf venation pinnate, secondary veins on either side of the midvein 9–14. Petioles 0.4–1.6 cm long, glabrous or pubescent. Stipules present, 20–40 mm long, caducous, circumferential or not circumferential.

Flowers. Flowering February or March or April or May. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, fascicles or heads or spikes, flowers sessile or stalked. Flowers unisexual or pistillate or staminate, epigynous. Perianth. Calyx radially symmetric, aposepalous or synsepalous. Sepals 4–8 per flower. Corolla absent. Androecium. Stamens 6–16 per flower, separate. Gynoecium. Ovaries inferior, pistils 1 per flower. Gynoecium syncarpous, 3 carpels per flower, styles 3 per pistil, placentation axile. Other floral features. Hypanthia present, involucres present.

Fruits. Fruits nuts, 1.2–2.2 cm long, brown or reddish-brown, fruit maturation 1 years.

Habitat. Habitat bottomland forests or mesic upland forests or mixed forest edges or suburban plantings.

Special Diagnostic Characters. Leaves with straight, unbranched, lateral veins, each ending in a tooth at the leaf margin; old yellowish brown to tan leaves often persist on branches through the winter; fruits are enclosed by prickly bracts that split open at the end of the summer revealing the 2 or 3, small, 3-angled nuts.

Cite this publication as: ‘Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White (2005 onwards). Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont: Identification, Descriptions, Illustrations, and Glossary. Version: March 7, 2006. <>’.

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