leaves · Nature Academy of the Berkshires · plants

North American Beech

The North American beech tree,  scientific name: Fagus grandifolia, is a shade-tolerant tree, that is commonly found in the Berkshire forests that are in the final stage of ecological succession. These trees are often found with sugar maple, yellow birch, and Eastern hemlock. They are slow growing trees that tend to grow straight and reach up to 70-80 feet tall.

The bark is usually light gray, thin with a smooth texture that has grit in some places.

The leaves are alternate, single bladed with coarsely saw toothed edges with in-curving teeth and grow 3-5 inches long. They are broadly oblong in shape dark green on the top and a lighter green on the underside. The leaves are deeply ridged on the back and have trichomes while unfolding. These woolly hairs protect the young epidermis of the leaves from the sunlight until they are fully formed and toughened.

Although it is a deciduous tree, the young trees usually hold their leaves through the winter, making a yellow canopy that can be heard rustling through out the winter.