American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
American Beech Tall trees with distinctive smooth gray bark and coarsely toothed elliptic leaves. Leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, elliptical in shape, and coarsely serrate with parallel lateral veins running to the margin teeth. Dead leaves persist on twigs over the winter. Twigs are slender, gray, and zigzag with long, pointed, yellow-brown, “cigar” buds. Bark is blue-gray, thin and smooth.
Leaves 1 to 5 inches long. Fruit – small triangular nuts enclosed in a bur-like husk with weak spines; each husk contains 2 to 3 nuts. The tree grows 60 to 80 feet tall.
Habitat: Rich soil of uplands and well drained lowlands from southeastern
Canada to Wisconsin; south to Florida and West to eastern Texas.
Fruit: September – October
Parts Used: Nuts
Uses: Nuts, flour, oil, coffee. The thin-shelled nuts have sweet kernels that are delicious roasted and eaten whole, or ground into flour. An outstanding vegetable oil can be squeezed from the crushed kernels. The roasted kernels can be used as a coffee substitute. Gather the nuts after they drop from the trees during the first frosty nights in October.
Note: Usually, only the trees in the northern U.S. and Canada produce plentiful supplies of nuts.