Beech, a large hardwood tree related to the oak and chestnut. Seven species of beech are found in the temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. The trees may be 100 to 150 feet (30 to 45 m) tall when full grown, and are among the most popular shade trees.
The American beech has smooth, gray bark that distinguishes it from other trees. The oval leaves, bluish-green above and light green beneath, have saw-toothed edges. They turn bright yellow in the fall. The fruit, called a beechnut, is a triangular nut enclosed in a prickly bur. Beechnuts are eaten by small mammals and birds and are fed to livestock.
The European beech, native to central and southern Europe, is planted as an ornamental in North America. The leaves have toothed edges and turn reddish-brown or bronze in the fall. There are several varieties of European beech, including the purple beech, the copper beech, and the fernleaved beech. The fernleaved beech, distinguished by its divided leaves, is noted for its red fall foliage.
Beech wood is hard and has a close grain. It is used in making furniture and for flooring.
The American beech is Fagus grandifolia; European, F. sylvatica. Beeches belong to the family Fagaceae.