American beech: F. grandifolia Ehrh
European beech: F. sylvatica L.
Source: Magness et al. 1971
The seeds of these beech species are sometimes gathered from native trees, or from trees planted for other purposes, and used as food. The seeds are formed in prickly burrs, about 0.75 to 1 inch in diameter, which remain closed until ripe, then partially open. The angular seeds or nuts are up to 0.75 inch long. The seed coat must be removed from the kernel before eating. In general, beech nuts are similar to small chestnuts. The trees are not cultivated for the purpose of nut production.