Leaves and branch of American beech | Photo credit: Larry Korhnak, University of Florida
American beech is the only member of the Fagusgenus that is native to North America. It is probably best known for its very smooth, gray bark that usually has someone's initials carved into it. It is a slow-growing, long-lived species that may survive for 300 to 400 years. Little grows in the dense shade of a beech tree but, if low branches are left on the tree, no groundcover or grass is needed.