Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.
Common Name: AMERICAN BEECH
Coefficient of Conservatism: 6
Coefficient of Wetness: 3
Wetness Index: FACU
Physiognomy: Nt Tree

Fagus grandifolia bark J. Kelly bark

Typical of beech-maple forests and hemlock-white pine-northern hardwoods. Thrives especially on islands and along the Lake Michigan shore where favored by moist winds.

Michigan is at the western edge of the range of beech. It is absent from the westernmost Upper Peninsula, and extends southward in Wisconsin only near Lake Michigan.

The smooth tight steel-gray bark of this species, together with the distinctive sharp-pointed slender elongate winter buds (ca. 15–25 mm long when fully grown) make this a well-known and easily recognized tree even in winter. Beech nuts, of which there are good crops only every few years, are an important food for wildlife as well as for the patient human. One quart of beech fruit, including burs (husks) will contain approximately one cup of nuts, which in turn will yield about one-half cup of shelled nutmeats. 

The leaves of beech are especially attractive as they unfold, accordion-like, from the prominent buds in the spring; they usually retain some silky pubescence on the petiole and veins beneath.

The European Fagus sylvatica L. is much more often planted, in a variety of cultivars, but is not known to escape. It differs from our native in having only mostly 5-9 pairs of veins in the leaf, which also has a much less toothed margin. Our native has mostly 9-14 pairs of veins per leaf, and a clearly serrate leaf margin.

Beeches in eastern North America are being killed by Beech Bark Disease, which results when wounds caused by an introduced scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga) are infected by the fungus Nectria coccinea. Infected trees show varying densities of roughened scars and lesions disfiguring the smooth bark. The disease was only recently discovered in Michigan, but is spreading.

Locations

Alcona County
Alger County
Allegan County
Alpena County
Antrim County
Barry County
Benzie County
Berrien County
Branch County
Calhoun County
Cass County
Charlevoix County
    Including Beaver Island
Cheboygan County
Chippewa County
    Including Drummond Island
Clare County
Crawford County
Delta County
Dickinson County
Emmet County
Genesee County
Gladwin County
Gratiot County
Hillsdale County
Huron County
Ingham County
Ionia County
Iosco County
Isabella County
Jackson County
Kalamazoo County
Kalkaska County
Kent County
Lake County
Lapeer County
Leelanau County
    Including Fox Islands
    Including Manitou Islands
Lenawee County
Livingston County
Luce County
Mackinac County
    Including Bois Blanc, Mackinac, Round Islands
Macomb County
Manistee County
Marquette County
Mason County
Mecosta County
Menominee County
Midland County
Missaukee County
Monroe County
Montcalm County
Montmorency County
Muskegon County
Newaygo County
Oakland County
Oceana County
Ogemaw County
Osceola County
Oscoda County
Otsego County
Ottawa County
Presque Isle County
Saginaw County
Sanilac County
Schoolcraft County
Shiawassee County
St. Clair County
St. Joseph County
Tuscola County
Van Buren County
Washtenaw County
Wayne County
Wexford County

Citation:

MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. December 12, 2017. http://www.michiganflora.net/species.aspx?id=1372.