American Beech

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

Beech is common throughout the hardwood areas of PEI but is rapidly being killed or deformed by the beech canker. It grows up to 60 feet with a diameter of 18 inches. The trunk is usually short, often crooked and breaks up near the ground into a dense, massive crown of wide-spreading tough and flexible branches. It is usually found on rich bottom lands and moist, well drained slopes and ridges. It is sometimes found in pure stands but more often is mixed with our other native hardwoods.


Historical Information:

Many recorders indicated that beech was among the principal trees of the forest with descriptions of “great abundance”, “super abundant”, “abounds in all parts of the island”, to name a few. It was described as being so abundant as to constitute extensive forests in many areas of the island. Early descriptions say that beech was a “handsome forest tree” and a “noble” tree up to 3 feet in diameter and a “majestic height”. It was one of the few trees of the time that was noted for it’s aesthetics. Most describers indicate that it is generally smaller than black (yellow) birch. It was believed at the time that “beech lands”, or where beech predominated, were second best lands for cultivation, as it was an indication of dry soil. Beech forests were seen as easily cleared for agriculture. Beech Stumps were able to be removed after 4 to seven years of rot. Beech mast was observed to be produced in vast quantities in certain years. It was believed that the vole “plaques” that occasionally affected the island settlers were a result of heavy mast production the year before. As far as usefulness, Beech was described as being equal to English oak in strength and durability and was heavily used in ship building for parts of the ship that were constantly wet. It was also used for turners and cabinet-makers. However, it was most often used as firewood, for which no other wood surpassed it.

The records show that Beech was once the dominant tree of the island’s hardwood forests and its presence contributed much to the character of those forests. However, because beech trees were an indicator of good agricultural soil, the land it occupied was espically susceptible to land clearance, and as well, much of what remained in woodlots in farming areas were probably cut and burned for fuel. The final blow to the beech forests that survived to the end of the nineteenth century was the beech canker, a fungal disease that arrived on the island in the early twentieth century. We can thus only imagine the large “noble” beech trees that once comprised much of the island’s hardwood forests. If any tree is deserving of the title of “provincial tree” of Prince Edward Island it is surely the beech.

Upcoming Events

9:00 am Ecological Bushcraft: An Overnig...
Ecological Bushcraft: An Overnig...
Sep 29 @ 9:00 am – Sep 30 @ 3:00 pm
Ecological Bushcraft: An Overnight Excursion @ Macphail Woods Nature Centre | Vernon Bridge | Prince Edward Island | Canada
Ecological Bushcraft: An Overnight Excursion September 29th-30th $225 Register Nowby ACTIVE Network Bushcraft is the art of living comfortably in nature. Learning to light a fire, construct a shelter or cook outdoors are just a
9:00 am Woodland Ecology: An Introductio...
Woodland Ecology: An Introductio...
Oct 6 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Woodland Ecology: An Introduction to Forest Stewardship @ Macphail Woods Nature Centre | Vernon Bridge | Prince Edward Island | Canada
Woodland Ecology:An Introduction to Forest Stewardship Saturday, October 6th $100 Register Nowby ACTIVE Network Whether it is one acre or one hundred acres, owning a woodlot can be a joyful but daunting task. Creating trails,
2:00 pm Autumn in the Forest
Autumn in the Forest
Oct 14 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
A walk along the trails of Macphail Woods, looking at both plants and animals. This is a great outing for people of all ages.
9:00 pm Chainsaw Safety and Maintenance
Chainsaw Safety and Maintenance
Nov 2 @ 9:00 pm – Nov 4 @ 3:00 pm
Chainsaw Safety and Maintenance @ Macphail Woods Nature Centre | Vernon Bridge | Prince Edward Island | Canada
Chainsaw Safety and Maintenance Spring Session: April 27th-29th Fall Session: November 2nd-4th $250 Register Nowby ACTIVE Network Burning firewood can be an affordable and potentially carbon neutral way to heat your home. However, the vast

Nursery Catalogue

Calendar of Events

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to our Mailing List