American beech retains its very smooth, mouse-gray bark without peeling, no matter how large it grows. It is very particular about growing in moist, well-drained areas such as hollows and north-facing lower slopes. Because of its dense summer foliage, the area under the tree is usually free of any undergrowth except occasional beech sprouts. Often, it will retain its leaves (light tan after frost) most of the winter.
Twigs have a pronounced zigzag pattern with long, slender bud and leaf scar at each outside turning point of the pattern.
Leaves are oblong, sharp-tipped, 3 − 5” long with toothed edges and very prominent, straight veins that stand out along the bottom of the leaf.