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American Beech: Care, Growing Guide, & Facts

American Beech: Care, Growing Guide, & Facts

American Beech

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American Beech Plant Description

The American beech, like the European beech (Fagus sylvatia), is a deciduous tree in the Fagus genus. The American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is a popular tree among native plant lovers, albeit it pales in comparison to its far more famous European counterpart in many aspects.

The American beech is a common tree in the eastern woodlands of the United States, with a 2- to 3-foot diameter trunk and smooth grey bark.

American Beech

The leaves are up to 5 inches broad, oval or elliptical in form, dark green in colour with pronounced veins that culminate in toothy edges, and up to 5 inches across.

In April and May, yellowish green blooms bloom, and the female flowers give way to triangular-shaped beechnuts.

In the fall, the leaves become a golden bronze colour. This is a huge tree that may reach a height of 80 feet or even higher.

How To Care American Beech?

A container-grown American beech tree might be tough to come by at your local garden centre. However, bare-root American beech trees are frequently available for purchase online.

Buying and planting a bare root tree is best done in late winter or early spring, although it can also be done in the fall. Before planting, soak the bare roots overnight. If you bought a ball-and-burlap tree, wet the ball with a hose while digging a planting hole.

Choose a planting location with deep, well-drained soil and enough space. The American beech tree may grow to reach over 100 feet tall on rare occasions. Also, at half that size, this is an example of a vast estate.

Because newly planted trees are vulnerable to the wind, it’s a good idea to put a stake into the ground and gently attach the tree trunk to the stake for the first few months of development.

The stake, though, should be removed at this stage since the tree will develop superior long-term strength if the wood is allowed to bend in the wind. One of the best qualities of the American beech tree is its branching pattern, which has an astonishing density and horizontal direction.

It’s also a tree with little branches. As a result of these characteristics, the tree produces such a deep shadow that little can grow beneath it. The fall foliage and winter attractiveness of the American beech tree are two of its outstanding attributes.

The leaves become golden-bronze in the second part of fall. After becoming tan, they stick around for the rest of the winter. In the winter, the smooth, silvery-gray bark and branching texture provide appeal.

American Beech Landscaping Tips

Grow plants that change colour at varying periods and grow to varying heights for the perfect fall landscape design. Unlike oak (Quercus spp.) and beech (Acer saccharum), red maple (Acer rubrum) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) trees change colour early.

To lower the viewer’s eye level, add some colourful fall bushes. Proceed with color-changing ground covers or perennials; many ferns, such as the interrupted fern, turn yellow in the fall (Osmunda claytoniana).

How To Grow American Beech?

i. Light

The sun doesn’t bother American beech trees. They appear to thrive in both full sun and partial shade.

ii. Soil

The most critical of all the criteria for American beech trees is a deep, well-drained soil. Fungi will be discouraged by well-drained soil. Furthermore, providing deep soil may aid in preventing the shallow roots that are so difficult for this tree.

Shallow roots may wreak havoc on neighbouring hardscape components, such as sidewalks and driveways, by forcing them to sag.

iii. Water

This plant requires a moderate amount of water. Ensure it receives around 1 inch of water per week in the form of rain and/or irrigation. Allowing water to collect around the tree might lead to root rot.

iv. Temperature and Humidity

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v. Fertilizer

It is permitted to use a well-balanced fertiliser. Add 1 pound of fertiliser per 100 square feet in the spring season. Spread it out on the ground just beneath the canopy of the tree and water it in.

Is American Beech Toxic?

Though the mature nuts of this tree are tasty, the unripe nuts contain minor quantities of fagin, a mild toxin found largely in the skin of the nuts. Before harmful consequences develop, large quantities of unripe nuts must be ingested.

This does happen infrequently with dogs and grazing animals. Although the American beech is less poisonous than the European beech, poisoning can occur when dogs or other animals consume the fallen nuts, which generally occurs in the fall.

Symptoms: Unripe nuts can induce gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting and diarrhoea, if consumed in excessive numbers. This is most common in dogs, but it can also happen in grazing animals that eat the nuts. The ailment normally resolves on its own in a short period of time, and medication is rarely required.

American Beech vs European Beech

Although there are no recognised cultivars of the American beech, there are some outstanding European beech varieties to consider:

1. Fagus sylvatica (European beech): This tree is remarkably similar to the American beech, although it has a somewhat darker bark and a less dense growth habit. It’s also a lot more tolerant of pollutants and city life. There are a number of well-named varieties available.

2. Copper beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’): This is a gorgeous coppery-purple cultivar of the European beech.

3. (F. Sylvatica ‘Purpurea Tricolor’): Tricolor beech (F. Sylvatica ‘Purpurea Tricolor’): This is another excellent European beech cultivar. It has variegated leaves that are pink, white, and green in hue. It’s a tiny tree with a maximum height of 30 feet.

American Beech Pruning

The weak roots will easily sucker these trees. As soon as these suckers develop, clip them away. Damaged or diseased limbs should be removed as soon as possible. It’s OK to clip infected branches down to a point a foot or two below the sick spot.

Because American beech trees have a low canopy, if you want a taller tree, chop away the low branches. Because huge forks are prone to breaking, it’s preferable to cut one of the two branches as soon as they form.

This will be easier to conduct while the tree is still young and developing; mature trees will almost certainly require the services of an arborist. Trimming for shape is best done in late winter or early spring, before the tree has started active new growth.

How To Propagate American Beech?

DIY propagation of the American beech is uncommon due to its sluggish growth rate. However, it is rather simple to do, both from seeds and stem cuttings.

i. American Beech Propagation From Stem

Take 6 to 10 inch cuttings from the apex of the branch, from young wood that is no more than a year old, to reproduce from stem cuttings. The optimal time to begin this procedure is in the fall.

Remove the bottom leaves and immerse the cut end in a pail of water to prevent it from drying out. Fill a small container with potting soil and wood-based compost, such as pine bark compost, while the branch soaks.

Plant the cut end of the branch in the prepared potting mix after dipping it in rooting hormone. Wet the potting soil and set it aside. Cover the pot with a transparent plastic bag that isn’t too tight.

Place the pot in a light area and continue to grow it until fresh leaves emerge and roots begin to form. Then, if you live in a warm environment, remove the plastic bag and continue to cultivate the cutting indoors throughout the winter or on a patio.

The trimmings can be planted in the landscape the following spring to mature into a tree.

ii. American Beech Propagation From Seed

Gather several dried, ripe beechnuts off the tree in the fall and place each one in a container filled with potting mix to grow from seeds.

Place the seeds in a sunny indoor spot and cover them with 1/2 inch of potting mix. Maintain a damp but not wet potting mix until the seed sprouts, then continue to grow in a light setting.

Transplant the seedling into a larger pot at the end of the first year and continue growing it until it reaches a height of 1 to 3 feet, when it is ready to be put into the landscape. You’ll need patience because this might take years.

American Beech Common Pests and Diseases

The American beech tree, such as the American elm tree (Ulmus americana) and the American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata), has been attacked by a foreign enemy and is infected with beech bark disease.

A non-native insect (the beech scale) and a certain fungus work together to create this illness (Nectria species). To extract sap, beech scale insects puncture the bark. The fungus has free access to the insides of the tree thanks to these perforations.

Bark cankers are the outcome. In the worst-case scenario, beech bark disease can lead to mortality. The tree’s appearance will be harmed at best.

It is possible to control the sickness, but it is challenging and best left to specialists. Knowing what causes beech bark disease should deter you from carving initials in your American beech tree that will be evident for decades.

Because of its thin bark, this tree has been a popular target for such carving: The bark is readily pierced by a knife, leaving scars that never heal. Human-made perforations, like insect piercings, can allow harmful fungus to enter the body.

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