The American Beech tree (Fagus grandfoila) is the only native species in the Beech genus that grows in the Western Hemisphere, the other being the European Beech, which was introduced and widely-planted in the US in the 19th century. American Beech trees grow mostly on the east coast of the US, reaching as far north as Nova Scotia, Canada, and as far south as northern Florida. A few isolated pockets of Beech trees have also been found to be growing in central Mexico.
The tree itself has smooth, silvery-gray bark and simple, alternately arranged, faintly-toothed dark green leaves extending from its branches. The tree is easy to identify by its distinctive buds: a smooth, oblong, brown bud, similar in shape and color to a cigar. The tree bears its fruit in the form of a sharply angled, small nut inside a spiky covering. These nuts are an important food source for birds and mammals, particularly during mast years. A mast year is when trees produce an abundance of nuts that is significantly higher than typical years.
The wood of the Beech tree is strong, tough, and heavy, giving it great value when used as lumber. Beech wood is used in flooring, furniture, and woodenware. The smooth and uniform nature of the bark has provided many opportunities for people to carve messages into the bark. Daniel Boone, a famous American pioneer, was rumored to have carved a message into a Beech tree growing in Kentucky. The tree with the message fell after standing for over 300 years, and is now on display in a historical museum in Louisville, Kentucky.
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Created in 2015 for Shinji Coram's Eagle Project