The only beech species on the American continent, American beech is common throughout a large range in the east, usually forming mixed broadleaf forests with, among others, sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). The smooth grey bark and heavy foliage are reminiscent of its European relative, common beech (F. sylvatica). However, the American species has longer and larger leaves and the trunk is a shade lighter, but the tree itself remains smaller than the European cousin.
Judging by experience at Mustila the American beech can be considered hardier than the European. The lone representative growing on Etelärinne (Southern slope) survived the cold winters of the war years and also those of the 1980s undamaged, while the nearby common beech specimens were severely damaged down to the snow line. American beech is rare in Finland and only a few old individuals are known. Nevertheless their winter hardiness has been so good that the species could be more widely planted in gardens and parks in southern Finland.
Arboretum Mustila expeditions have collected seed from the northern parts of the species’ natural range in 1996 and 2002. The seedlings grown from these collections have grown well in rich shady forest settings but in open lower areas, susceptible to spring ground frosts, they have suffered some damage and grown slowly.