It is a large tree, capable of reaching heights of up to 49 m (160 ft) tall and 3 m (10 ft) trunk diameter, though more typically 25–35 m (80–115 ft) tall and up to 1.5 m (5 ft) trunk diameter. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 4 m (13 ft) tall. It has a typical lifespan of 150 to 200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years. The appearance varies according to its habitat; in forest conditions, it tends to have a long, slender light-gray trunk with a narrow crown and erect branches, in isolation with good side light the trunk is short with a large and widely spreading crown with very long branches.
The 'Speulder & Sprielderbos' in the Netherlands are known for their magnificant beeches. There seems to be no straight meter anywhere, every stem or branch is curled.