The wood of American beech is heavy, hard, tough and strong, so much so that loggers used to leave them uncut. As a result, many areas today still have extensive groves of old beeches that would not otherwise occur. Today, the wood is harvested for uses such as flooring, containers, furniture, handles and woodenware. It is common in most of the eastern deciduous forest.
Culture for American Beech
American beech prefers well-drained, slightly acid soils, but tolerates a wide range of conditions. Does well in full sun but tolerates shade. Often casts dense shade that prevents growth of grass or other plants beneath. Roots tend to be shallow. Not generally a good urban species.
Concerns about American Beech
It does not tolerate wet or compacted soils, drought, or other root zone disturbance. Beech bark disease can be a killer of American beech. This disease occurs when the beech scale insect, Cryptococcus fagisuga, attacks the bark, creating a wound that is then infected by fungi in the genus Nectria. This causes a canker to develop and the tree is eventually killed.
Management Practices for American Beech
American beech requires little pruning to develop good structure. Branch breakage is infrequent, but co-dominant stems can be cabled to improve support. Low branches are sometimes removed for clearance. Wound closure is often slow. Soil management should focus on maintaining a slightly acid pH (5.0 to 6.5) soil with adequate organic matter; avoid over-irrigation. Beech does best in a bed of organic matter.