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Intro to Trees of Indiana: Beech

The classic and trusted book "Fifty Common Trees of Indiana" by T.E. Shaw was published in 1956 as a user-friendly guide to local species.  Nearly 70 years later, the publication has been updated through a joint effort by the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Indiana 4-H, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and reintroduced as "An Introduction to Trees of Indiana."

A printed copy of the full publication is available for purchase for $7 in the Purdue Extension Education Store. The field guide helps identify common Indiana woodlot trees.

Each week, the Intro to Trees of Indiana web series will offer a sneak peek at one species from the book, paired with an ID That Tree video from Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee to help visualize each species as it stands in the woods. Threats to species health as well as also insight into the wood provided by the species, will be provided through additional resources as well as the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest exhibit of the Purdue Arboretum, if available. 

Line drawing of a beech leafThis week, we introduce the beech, or Fagus grandifolia.

The Beech is easily identified by its smooth gray bark and its simple leaves, which feature straight-line veins from the midrib to the small teeth on the margin. Beeches produce a 3/4-inch long fruit covered in spines, which typically holds two triangular-shaped nuts.

American beech is a shade tolerant species found in the understory often on moist but well-drained soils, that also reaches up into the forest canopy at around 70 to 80 feet tall. Beech is found throughout the Great Lakes region as well as the central and southeastern United States.

Beech is used to make items varying from wooden clothes pins to brush banks, handles and woodenware. Due to its strength and ease of turning, it is also used for chair production. Flooring, railroad ties, pallets and container veneer are other uses for this species. 

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