What it looks like

Blue beech may also be known as musclewood for its muscle-like ridges on the smooth-gray trunks, and if often confused as a small beech tree. Leaves are bluish-green, with fine teeth, and becoming successively larger along the shoots. The small nuts are surrounded by a leaf-like bract, becoming brown in late fall, and hanging in clusters.

Where it is found

Blue beech is found in Southern Ontario, in forested areas around the edges of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, but also found around Pembroke and Renfrew and on Manitoulin Island.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 8 m tall
  • Moisture: Prefers moist and can tolerate seasonal flooding
  • Shade: Can tolerate full shade, and full sun with ample moisture
  • Soil: Prefers rich, well-drained soils

Blue beech is best transplanted as a young, container-grown tree. Before mulching, you can layer 3 cm of mature compost in a wide ring around the tree on poorer soils.

Blue beech is useful for naturalized understory planting but is also adaptable to urban sites and can even be used as a pruned hedge once established.

Did you know?

Blue beech wood is very strong and was used to make tool handles by early settlers.

Image credits

  • Tree: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
  • Leaf: Bill Cook
  • Bark: John Ruter
  • Fruit: David Lee