Trees, with smooth light gray bark, and serrate straight-veined leaves. Flowers appearing with the leaves, the staminate in slender-peduncled pendulous globose heads, the pistillate about 2 together in short-peduncled subulate-bracted involucres in the upper axils. Staminate flowers yellowish-green, subtended by deciduous bracts, consisting of a campanulate 4-8-lobed calyx, and 8-16 stamens with filiform filaments. Pistillate flowers with a 6-lobed perianth adnate to a 3-celled ovary; ovules 2 in each cavity, usually 1 only of each ovary maturing; styles 3, filiform. Nut coriaceous, sharply 3-angled, enclosed in the 4-valved bur. [Name from the Greek, to eat, referring to the esculent nuts.]

About 4 species of the northern hemisphere. Only the following is native in North America. Type species: Fagus sylvatica L.

1. Fagus Grandifolia Ehrh. American Beech

Fig. 1511

Fagus americana latifolia Muench. Hausv. 5: 162.

1770. Fagus grandifolia Ehrh. Beytr. Naturk. 3: 22. 1788. Fagus fcrruginea Ait. Hort. Kew. 3: 362. 1789. Fagus americana Sweet, Hort. Brit. 370. 1826. F. grandifolia caroliniana Fernald & Rehder, Rhodora 9: 114. 1907.

A large forest tree, with maximum height of about 120°, and a trunk diameter of 4 1/2°, the lower branches spreading. Leaves ovate, ovate-oblong or oblong-obovate, firm, acuminate at the apex, obtuse, subcordate or narrowed at the base, 2 -4 1/2' long, 1 - 3' wide, densely silky when young, glabrous or somewhat pubescent when mature, green on both sides, not shining, rather coarsely serrate; petioles 2"-6" long; heads of staminate flowers 6"-9' in diameter, hanging on peduncles 1-3' long; bur 6"-10" high, densely tomentose, its soft, long or short prickles recurved or spreading; nut brown; seed sweet.

In rich soil, Nova Scotia to Ontario, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida and Texas. Wood hard, strong, tough, close-grained; color light or dark red; weight 43 lbs. per cubic foot. April-May. Nuts ripe Sept.-Oct. Leaves of seedlings and young shoots are sometimes pinnatifid. Red or white beech.

1 Fagus Grandifolia Ehrh American Beech 1511