The American beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) often grows 120 feet tall in a natural forest setting but rarely exceeds 50 feet in the home landscape. Its width normally averages 50 feet. The tree grows wild throughout the eastern and southern United States. Each fall the abundant green foliage of the tree turns a brilliant bronze and finally fades to tan before the leaves drop to the ground.
The American beech tree prefers well-draining moist soil that is high in organic content. The tree's shallow root system requires moderately moist soil conditions to thrive. It does not do well during a drought. It will grow well in either partial shade or full sunlight. In its native habitat the tree grows in bottom lands and throughout upland forests.
Spiny burs occur that contain four small nuts. The nuts contain a high oil content, which gives them excellent nutritional value for birds, small mammals and even humans. Chickadees prefer nesting in large American beech trees, where they can readily consume the seeds and raise their young.
The wood of the American beech is used for a wide variety of purposes. The paper industry uses a large amount of American beech trees in paper manufacturing. The wood is often milled for use in cabinets, furniture and toys. It is also commonly used as a fuel wood.
Tar, Leaf and Bark Uses
The tar harvested from the American beech tree is known as creosote. Creosote is used as an additive to help keep other woods from rotting when painted on or applied to their surface, according to the University of Florida's website. The leaves and bark are used as additives to many dyes.
Several pests such as aphids, leaf miners, scales and borers commonly afflict the American beech tree. The insects rarely do any serious damage to the tree and it normally recovers fine from an infestation. Spraying the tree with water often helps control scales or aphids. Regularly fertilizing and caring for the tree will make it less susceptible to borers or leaf miners.