The deep green leaves of the American beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) turn brilliant golden yellow and bronze in fall. According to the Western North Carolina Nature Center, Fagus grandifolia is the only species of beech that grows in North America.
Beech trees grow to a height of about 80 feet, and may have spreads of up to 70 feet. Most trees grow to between 50 and 70 feet tall with 40-foot spreads.
Beech tree bark is smooth and grey, resembling the skin of elephants. It has a shallow root system with root tops often protruding above ground at the base of the tree. Beech trees often develop hollow limbs and trunks that provide shelter for animals, but they are vulnerable in high winds.
Beech is considered a slow-growing tree. Trees live to be 40 to 50 years old, which means they average a foot or more in growth annually.
Factors That Influence Growth
Beech does well in shaded spots, but it thrives when in partial shade to full sun. It can tolerate a variety of soil conditions, but grows best when in well-drained soil that is rich and constantly moist.