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Beech Nuts

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Beech trees, Fagus grandifolia, with their smooth beautiful trunks and handsome leaves, also produce nuts – usually there are two highly nutritious and tasty nuts which develop in very spiny burrs, protective structures that open with frost, allowing the nuts to fall to the ground.  Unlike our delicious pecans, beechnuts unhealthy contain compounds unhealthy for humans that are destroyed by roasting. In the days when people looked to nature for much of their food, these nuts were collected and roasted before being ground and used as a coffee substitute or added to flour for breadmaking. Animals, however, are the major consumers as the list of species that feed on them is extensive. Rodents, beers, squirrels, and many birds rely on beech mast as a staple food in winter. The wood isn’t particularly good for furniture making, but due its density makes great firewood. 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.