American Beech : Overview

american beech full

American Beech, Fagus grandifolia (E.R. Mosher)

By Theresa Bruderer

The American Beech tree, Fagus grandifolia, is part of a tree family revered in both North America and Europe. This species can be found in Vermont and has a vast range outside the state, spreading from southern Canada to northern Florida and westward to Missouri and eastern Texas. With its strong stature and healthy sheen of leaves, the American Beech has been enchanting both Native Americans and settlers for centuries. Not only is the tree an obvious mark of beauty, it symbolizes sustenance, preservation, time, understanding, and knowledge. The term “beech” is of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from Norse languages as a synonym for “book”. The modern Swedish word bok means “book” as well as “beech tree”. Centuries ago, thin slices of beech wood were used like paper to carve runic characters into and were bound together to make the first books. This magnificent tree still holds a special place in our environment today, whether it is being used by humans as a commercial or medicinal resource or providing an array of animals with the sustenance they need.