There are two different types of beech trees, according to Tree Help. They are the American beech, or Fagus grandiflora, and the European beech, or Fagus sylvatica. Both types of beech trees grow slowly, according to Oregon State University, and may not bear fruit until they are at least 50 years old. Still, they are attractive, hardy plants and are often grown as shade or specimen trees
The American beech has low-growing branches. In cultivation, it grows to an average height and width of around 50 feet, according to the University of Florida. In the wild, it can grow to 120 feet. This tree has low-growing branches and leaves that are dark green. The bark of the American beech is smooth and silvery gray in color.
The European beech has the same, light gray bark and glossy green leaves as the American beech. The European beech tends to be smaller and more pyramidal in shape, however, and the leaves are slightly smaller and rounder. The average size of the European beech is 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide.
Both types of beech trees enjoy a temperate climate, with mild summers and cool winters. The American beech weathers cold temperatures a little better than the European beech, while the European beech has a better heat tolerance than the American beech. American beech trees grow best in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) growing zones 3 through 8, according to the University of Florida. European beech trees grow best in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 7.
Both types of beech trees require the same growing conditions in order to thrive, according to Oregon State University. They like light, loamy soils that are not overly wet. The soil can dry out slightly to an inch or two below the surface before the next watering. Beech trees cannot tolerate salty soil or extended periods of drought, but they will grow well in clay or acidic soil. These trees can also tolerate a wide range of light conditions and will grow in shade, partial shade or full sunlight.
Beech trees can be bothered by insect pests such as aphids and boring insects, which burrow into the wood of the tree. Both of these insects are usually not life-threatening to the tree and can be controlled with insecticides, or in the case of aphids, by simply rinsing them off the tree with a strong stream of water. Beech scale, however, is a serious problem in American beech trees. This insect attacks the bark of the tree, which in turn allows a deadly fungus to enter the tree and kill it. The best way to prevent the fungus from infecting the tree is to control beech scale with the use of insecticides.
Beech trees have shallow roots and should not be planted near sidewalks or other structures that may be easily uprooted by the spread of the tree's roots. The tree's low branches are also a nuisance in areas where pedestrians walk. The low branches also create dense shade, which will prevent grass or flowers from growing under the tree. American beech trees do not transplant easily, so choose a location where the tree can stay for the duration of its life. European trees transplant a bit easier.