Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Fagus grandifolia


SPECIES: Fagus grandifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Coladonato, Milo. 1991. Fagus grandifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : FAGGRA SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : FAGR COMMON NAMES : American beech beech Carolina beech gray beech red beech ridge beech white beech TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of American beech is Fagus grandifolia (Ehrh.) Little [26]. Some authorities hold that the southern beeches vary and describe the southern form as F. grandifolia var. caroliniana (Loud) Fernald & Rehder [32]. The variety F. grandifolia var. mexicana (Martinez) is found in Mexico [26]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Fagus grandifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : American beech is distributed from Cape Brenton Island, Nova Scotia west to Maine, southern Quebec, southern Ontario, northern Michigan, and eastern Wisconsin; south to southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri, northwestern Arkansas, southeastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas; east to northern Florida; and northeast to southeastern South Carolina. An isolated variety (var. mexicana) occurs in the mountains of northeastern Mexico [41,22]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch STATES : AL AR CT DE FL GA IL IN KY LA MA MD ME MI MN MO MS NC NH NJ NY OH OK PA SC TN TX VT VA WI WV NS ON PQ MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K081 Oak savanna K083 Cedar glades K084 Cross timbers K089 Black Belt K090 Live oaks - sea oats K093 Great Lakes - fir forest K094 Conifer bog K095 Great Lakes pine forest K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest K098 Northern floodplain forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalacian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest K109 Transition between K104 and K106 K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K115 Pocosin K116 Subtropical pine forest. SAF COVER TYPES : 20 White pine - northern red oak - maple 21 Eastern white pine 22 White pine - hemlock 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 26 Sugar maple - basswood 27 Sugar maple 28 Black cherry - maple 30 Red spruce - yellow birch 31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech 32 Red spruce 33 Red spruce - balsam fir 34 Red spruce - Fraser fir 35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 55 Northern red oak 57 Yellow poplar 58 Yellow poplar - eastern hemlock 59 Yellow poplar - white oak - northern red oak 60 Beech - sugar maple 108 Red maple SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : American beech is either a dominant or codominant species in the northern hardwoods of the Northeast, Lake States, and the Appalachian Mountains. Common associates include sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), American basswood (Tilia americana), black cherry (Prunus serotina), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), red spruce (Picea rubens), hickories (Carya spp.), and oaks (Quercus spp.) [3,41]. Published classification schemes listing American beech as dominant or codominant in habitat types (hts) are listed below: Area Classification Authority n MI, ne WI forest hts Coffman, Alyanak & Rosovosky 1980 n WI forest hts Kotar & others 1989 n WI, n MI forest hts Kotar 1986


SPECIES: Fagus grandifolia
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Beech wood is used to make flooring, furniture, veneer plywood, and railroad ties. It is especially favored as fuel wood because of its high density and good burning qualities. Coal tar made from beech wood is used to protect wood from rotting. The creosote made from beech wood is used to treat various human and animal disorders [31,41]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Beech mast is eaten by a variety of birds and mammals, including mice, squirrels, chipmunks, black bear, deer, foxes, ruffed grouse, ducks, and bluejays [41]. PALATABILITY : Beech is regarded as a poor deer browse. The frequency of its use in some areas is due to the low availability of more preferable browse [7]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : American beech provides cover for the Carolina chickadee (Parus carolinensis) and the black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus) [10]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Beech grows relatively slowly and has a low tolerance to fire. Its value as a colonizer is limited [6,21,39]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Beechnuts are roasted and eaten or used a coffee substitute. The leaves and bark are used to make dyes [24]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Even-aged silviculture adversely affects beech production and favors production of associated hardwoods. Beech seedlings may be overtopped in clearcuts by less shade-tolerant species such as birches (Betula spp.) and oaks, which respond vigorously to increased light. Repeated clearcutting at short intervals may eliminate beech. Shelterwood cuts allow beech to develop with little competition from more intolerant species [40,12,30]. Beech is seriously affected by beech bark disease. The saddled is its most serious defoliator, and the forest tent caterpillar, gypsy moth, fall cankerworm ruce spanworm (Operophtera bruceata) occasionally cause heavy damage [41].


SPECIES: Fagus grandifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Beech is a large, native, deciduous tree. It normally grows 65 to 80 feet (20-25 m) tall but can can grow up to 130 feet (40 m) and can live to over 300 years old. The bark is blue gray. The leaves are yellow green during the growing season. The branches are stout and horizontal, or ascending, with interlocking leaves forming a dense crown. The root system is shallow and spreading. The fruit is a bur, usually containing two nuts [4,41]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction: Beech begin producing seed when 40 years old and by 60 years old may produce large quantities. Beech produces seed at 2- to 8-year intervals. Beech seeds average about 1,600 per pound (3,500/kg) [41]. Most seeds drop to the ground. A few are carried by rodents but dispersal is limited. Bluejays may transport seeds several kilometers [9]. Most of the seeds will germinate in the 1st year; after that, the seeds lose viability [41]. Beech seeds germinate from early spring to early summer. Chilling is required to break dormancy. Germination is good on mineral soil or leafy litter, but poor on excessively wet sites. Seedlings grow best under a moderate canopy or in protected small openings where the soil does not dry out below the depth of the shallow roots [28]. Vegetative Reproduction: Beech can regenerate by root suckers or by stump sprouts [6]. Sprouts may develop on the trunk of a tree immediately below a wound and from the top of stumps. Adventitious buds develop in callus tissue of the cambial layers of stumps. Sprouts can also develop from the exposure of the roots to air or elevated temperatures. Sometimes root sprouts develop when no apparent injury has occurred [14]. The advance of beech bark disease, with its resultant mortality of overstory beech stems, is likely to result in an increase in root suckering [23]. Beech is more likely to develop by sprouting than by seedling establishment [19]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Beech is found at low elevations in the North and relatively high elevations in the South. Local soil and climatic factors probably determine whether beech grows at the higher elevations. In the Adirondack Mountains, low temperatures and wind keep beech below 3,200 feet (975 m) in contrast to the Appalachian Mountains where on the warmer slopes it grows at elevations up to 6,000 (1,830 m) feet. At altitudes in the middle of its range, beech is more abundant on the cooler, moister, northern slopes than on the southern slopes [41]. Beech is usually found within two principal soil groups: the gray podzolic (Hapludalf) and the laterite (Acrothox) and is prevalent on podzols. It is seldom found on limestone soils except in the western edge of its range. Beech populations are higher on coarse textured, dry to mesic soils in the northern part of its range [2,41]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : American beech is a climax species that grows slowly underneath an overstory of conifers or hardwoods. Beech grows faster in canopy openings and eventually ascends into the overstory [1,8]. In an old-growth forest in New Hampshire, beech replaced yellow birch and sugar maple and then was able to maintain itself via root suckering [36]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Flowering occurs from March to May. Fruiting occurs from September to October. Seeds are released in October or November after frost [33,42].


SPECIES: Fagus grandifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Thin bark renders American beech highly vulnerable to injury by fire. Postfire colonization is through root suckering [39]. When fire is absent or of low frequency, beech frequently becomes a dominant species in mixed deciduous forests [5]. The transition from an open fire-dominated forest to a closed canopy deciduous forest favors the beech-magnolia type in the southern portion of beech's range [11]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex survivor species; on-site surviving rhizomes off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Fagus grandifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire usually top-kills American beech. Mortality of young trees is related to fire severity: Cool fires kill 40 to 50 percent of the seedlings and saplings [16,36]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : Fire wounds may serve as entrance courts for a host of decaying fungi [41]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Beech trees that survive a fire regenerate by root suckering or stump sprouting [29,41]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fire could create favorable conditions for beech production. Fire could reduce the litter and humus layer, expose roots, or injure the parent tree, creating conditions for the production of sucker shoots [39].


SPECIES: Fagus grandifolia
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