All the recognized medicinal properties and beneficial effects of the beech bark and leaves are due mainly to the astringent and antiseptic properties they possess. The leaves and the bark of the beech were traditionally used in many different herbal preparations for the treatment of a variety of disorders affecting different parts of the body. The boiled beech leaves and bark were also used to prepare a decoction and this was used as a wash or made into a poultice to treat different problems such as frostbite, all kinds of minor burns and in treating poison ivy rash. The beech nuts were also normally eaten as a vermifuge to rid a person of intestinal parasites. Beech bark was also made into an herbal tea and this was used in the treatment of disorders that affected the lungs. The herbal beech bark tea was also used to induce an abortion in pregnant women suffering from problems in the early stages of pregnancy. Beech oil sourced from the seeds has also been used traditionally as a fuel for old style oil lamps - these lamps were very common early in the history of colonial America. The wood of the beech is strong, heavy and hard, it is a very fine grained wood, however, it is difficult to cure and not durable. The beech is harvested on a commercial basis as a major source of timber; the wood is used to make furniture, as flooring wood, to make tool handles and crates. Beech wood is also used in artwork and makes an excellent charcoal. Commercial plantations of beech are undertaken in the United States and other countries.
The beech is a native species of the American continent. Beech forests can be found from Nova Scotia to Ontario, to Florida in the south up to eastern Texas, such forests can also be seen in the west up to Wisconsin and extend to Missouri in the south. The ideal soil type to grow beech is light or medium soil, the plant does well on chalk, and however, it is not well adapted on heavy wet soils and grows badly on such soils. The shade tolerance of young beech trees is good; however, the young trees are easily subject to damage from frost damage and are best grown in woodland sites where they can gain protection from the frost. Beech seeds are dispersed following the first frosts of the year; these seeds are sometimes gathered and sold in the local markets of N. America to be used for many different processes. In the wild, good crops can be produced once every two to three years. Beech species of some kinds give off suckers and can often form thickets in the wild forming shady undergrowth around the tree. A dense shade is common around beech trees as they have surface feeding roots, the growth of these surface roots can greatly inhibit the growth of other plants in the area around the plant, particularly in places where a number of the trees are clumped together, as a result of the shade, the ground around beech trees is almost without any other vegetation or undergrowth. The beech trees are propagated in plantations using the stored seeds. Beech seeds have limited viability and are best sown as soon as the nuts have ripened in the autumn - the use of a cold frame is ideal to promote rapid germination of the plants. The beech seeds must be protected from mice and other seed pests. The beech seeds normally germinate during the spring season. Once the seedlings have emerged and become large enough to handle, each individual seedling must be pricked out and placed into individual pots, these can then be grown in the greenhouse the first winter. Once they have been allowed to grow in the greenhouse, the seedlings can then be planted out into their permanent positions in the late spring or in early summer, following the passage of the last expected frosts of the year. Late frosts can easily damage the growing seedlings which are all rather slow growing during the first few years and they are all very susceptible to permanent damage from adverse weather during these initial years of growth. Beech seeds can also be sown in an outdoor seedbed during the autumn months. Before they are finally transplanted, seedlings can be left in open ground for three years, however, they are likely to grow best if they are placed in their final positions as soon as possible provided they are given protection from sudden frosts in early spring.