Beeches are slow-growing, often reaching 75 to 100 feet tall. They develop a high, wide canopy, their spread measuring 2/3rds of their height, up to 75 feet. During their first 10 years, American beeches will typically grow 9 to 12 feet, their fastest growth taking place in the first five years. These stately trees may live from 0 to 300 years.
Foliage: American beeches are deciduous, losing their foliage over the winter. Individual leaves grow alternately along each side of their stems. Shaped like slightly elongated ovals, they are about 2 to 3 inches long. They have 9 to 14 pairs of veins in them, and their edges are obviously toothed, giving them a coarse appearance and leathery texture. They are paler and shinier underneath. Young, new leaves in April are a shiny light green, becoming a duller blue green in summer then clear yellow in autumn. They begin to brown around the edges in October, then all over, but they often hang on through the winter and (drop)in January.
Flowers and Fruit: Drooping, globe shaped clusters of inconspicuous flowers appear on American beeches in late April or early May after the leaves begin to emerge. They are yellow-green.
Eventually they are followed by pyramidal-shaped nuts in burr type husks, each about 1 inch long. By the middle of September until well into November, these nuts are sought after by all kinds of wildlife-- woodpeckers, blackbirds, ground birds and small mammals.