The American beech (Fagus grandifolia) found in North America has some distinct characteristics and adaptations that allow for its survival in the temperate deciduous climates.
These trees have an incredibly long life spanning at least four centuries and grow up to about 80 feet tall. Beech trees stand out in a deciduous forest because of their light grey bark and oval shaped leaves.
This tree can easily adjust to its surroundings. If the area is densely populated with other trees, the American beech does not grow wide, but instead grows tall with a thick top of leaves. If there is enough open space these trees are shorter with horizontal branches and wide leaves on top.
The leaves of the American beech are about 6 inches long and ½ inch wide. They are oval shaped with parallel rows of veins running across them, with rigged edges and are light green on the bottom and dull on top.
One of its key adaptations is its thick growth of leaves. This allows them to soak up enough sunlight to produce nutrition.
These thick leave also prevent any other plants from surviving under their shade. This is because the canopy caused by these leaves makes it almost impossible for sunlight to stream through to the ground.
The American beech tree’s root system is another one of its adaptations. Its root system is rather shallow, for such a gigantic tree, but is well adapted to the moist soil of deciduous forests.
The root system also serves a vital role in its reproductive cycle. These roots produce suckers, which are shoots that grow from an already established root system. The mechanism is similar to a baby connected to his mother’s body through the umbilical cord.
These suckers have a better chance of survival because they are connected to the mother tree gaining nutrition right from its source.