Beech: Wikis

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beech
European Beech leaves and cupules
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Fagus
L.
Species

Fagus crenata – Japanese Beech
Fagus engleriana – Chinese Beech
Fagus grandifolia – American Beech
Fagus hayatae – Taiwan Beech
Fagus japonica – Japanese Blue Beech
Fagus longipetiolata – South Chinese Beech
Fagus lucida – Shining Beech
Fagus mexicana – Mexican Beech or Haya
Fagus orientalis – Oriental Beech
Fagus sylvatica – European Beech
Fagus taurica

Beech (Fagus) is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.

Contents

Habit

The leaves of beech trees are entire or sparsely toothed, from 5–15 cm long and 4–10 cm broad. The flowers are small single-sex (monoecious), the female flowers borne in pairs, the male flowers wind-pollinated catkins, produced in spring shortly after the new leaves appear. The bark is smooth and light gray. The fruit is a small, sharply three–angled nut 10–15 mm long, borne singly or in pairs in soft-spined husks 1.5–2.5 cm long, known as cupules. The nuts are edible, though bitter (though not nearly as bitter as acorns) with a high tannin content, and are called beechmast.

Beech grows on a wide range of soil types, acid or basic, provided they are not waterlogged. The tree canopy casts dense shade, and carpets the ground with dense leaf litter, and the ground flora beneath may be sparse.

In North America, they often form Beech-Maple climax forests by partnering with the Sugar Maple

The southern beeches Nothofagus previously thought closely related to beeches, are now treated as members of a separate family, Nothofagaceae. They are found in Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Argentina and Chile (principally Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego).

The beech blight aphid (Grylloprociphilus imbricator) is a common pest of beech trees. Beeches are also used as food plants by some species of Lepidoptera (see list of Lepidoptera that feed on beeches).

Uses

Beech wood is an excellent firewood, easily split and burning for many hours with bright but calm flames. Chips of beech wood are used in the brewing of Budweiser beer as a fining agent. Beech logs are burned to dry the malts used in some German smoked beers, giving the beers their typical flavor. Beech is also used to smoke some cheeses.

Some drums are made from beech, which has a tone generally considered to be between maple and birch, the two most popular drum woods.

Also, beech pulp is used as the basis for manufacturing a textile fibre known as Modal. The wood is also used to make the pigment known as bistre.

The fruit of the beech, also called "Beechnuts" and "mast", are found in the small burrs that drop from tree in autumn. They are small, triangular, and edible, with a bitter, astringent taste.

Beech was a common writing material in Germanic societies before the development of paper. The Old English bōc[1] and Old Norse bók[2] have the primary sense of beech, but a secondary sense of book, and it is from bōc that the modern word derives.[1]

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As an ornamental

Beech bark with nodules.

The beech most commonly grown as an ornamental tree is the European Beech (Fagus sylvatica), widely cultivated in North America as well as its native Europe. Many varieties are in cultivation, notably the weeping beech F. sylvatica 'Pendula', several varieties of Copper or purple beech, the fern-leaved beech F. sylvatica 'Asplenifolia', and the tricolour beech F. sylvatica 'roseomarginata'. The strikingly columnar Dawyck beech (F. sylvatica 'Dawyck') occurs in green, gold and purple forms, named after Dawyck Garden in the Scottish Borders, one of the four garden sites of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The European species, Fagus sylvatica, yields a utility timber that is tough but dimensionally unstable. It weighs around 720 kg per cubic metre and is widely used for furniture framing and carcass construction, flooring and engineering purposes, in plywood and in household items like plates, but rarely as a decorative timber.

In the British Isles

European Beech with unusual aerial roots in a wet Scottish Glen.

Beech was a late entrant to Great Britain after the last glaciation, and may have been restricted to basic soils in the south of England.[3] The beech is classified as a native in the south of England and as a non-native in the north where it is often removed from 'native' woods[4].

Beech is not native to Ireland; however, it was widely planted from the 18th Century, and can become a problem shading out the native woodland understory. The Friends of the Irish Environment say that the best policy is to remove young, naturally regenerating beech while retaining veteran specimens with biodiversity value.[5]

Climate change is having a negative impact on the beech in the south of England.[6] This has led to a campaign by Friends of the Rusland Beeches[7] and South Lakeland Friends of the Earth[8] launched in 2007 to reclassify the beech as native in Cumbria.[9] The campaign is backed by Tim Farron MP who tabled a motion on 3 December 2007 regarding the status of beech in Cumbria.[10]

Today, beech is widely planted for hedging and in deciduous woodlands, and mature, regenerating stands occur throughout mainland Britain below about 650 m.[11] The tallest and longest hedge in the world (according to the Guinness World Records) is the Meikleour Beech Hedge in Meikleour, Perth and Kinross, Scotland.

Images of beeches

References

  1. ^ A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Second Edition (1916), Blōtan-Boldwela, John R. Clark Hall
  2. ^ An Icelandic-English Dictionary (1874), Borðsalmr-Bók Cleasby and Vigfusson
  3. ^ http://linnaeus.nrm.se/flora/di/faga/fagus/fagusylv.jpg
  4. ^ Forestry Commission
  5. ^ Friends of the Irish Environment
  6. ^ City of London
  7. ^ Friends of the Rusland Beeches
  8. ^ South Lakeland Friends of the Earth
  9. ^ http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/viewarticle.aspx?id=596732
  10. ^ UK Parliament - Early Day Motions By Details
  11. ^ Preston, Pearman & Dines (2002) New Atlas of the British Flora. Oxford University Press

Margaret G. Thomas and David R. Schumann. 1993. Income Opportunities in Special Forest Products—Self-Help Suggestions for Rural Entrepreneurs. Agriculture Information Bulletin AIB?666, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC

See also

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BEECH, a well-known tree, Fagus sylvatica, a member of the order Fagaceae to which belong the sweet-chestnut (Castanea) and oak. The name beech is from the Anglo-Saxon boc, bete or beoce (Ger. Buche, Swedish, bok), words meaning at once a book and a beech-tree. The connexion of the beech with the graphic arts is supposed to have originated in the fact that the ancient Runic tablets were formed of thin boards of beech-wood. "The origin of the word," says Prior (Popular Names of British Plants), " is identical with that of the Sanskrit boko, letter, bokos, writings; and this correspondence of the Indian and our own is interesting as evidence of two things, viz. that the Brahmins had the art of writing before they detached themselves from the common stock of the Indo-European race in Upper Asia, and that we and other Germans have received alphabetic signs from the East by a northern route and not by the Mediterranean." Beech-mast, the fruit of the beech-tree, was formerly known in England as buck; and the county of Buckingham is so named from its fame as a beech-growing country. Buckwheat (Bucheweizen) derives its name from the similarity of its angular seeds to beech-mast. The generic name Fagus is derived from q5ayav, to eat; but the 4n yos of Theophrastus was probably the sweet chestnut (Aesculus) of the Romans. Beech-mast has been used as food in times of distress and famine; and in autumn it yields an abundant supply of food to park-deer and other game, and to pigs, which are turned into beech-woods in order to utilize the fallen mast. In France it is used for feeding pheasants and domestic poultry. Well-ripened beech-mast yields from 17 to 20% of non-drying oil, suitable for illumination, and said to be used in some parts of France and other European countries in cooking, and as a substitute for butter.

The beech is one of the largest British trees, particularly on chalky or sandy soils, native in England fromYorkshire southwards, and planted in Scotland and Ireland. It is one of the common forest trees of temperate Europe, spreading from southern Norway and Sweden to the Mediterranean. It is found on the Swiss Alps to about 5000 ft. above sea-level, and in southern Europe is usually confined to high mountain slopes; it is plentiful in southern Russia, and is widely distributed in Asia Minor and the northern provinces of Persia.

It is characterized by its sturdy pillar-like stem, often from 15 to 20 ft. in girth, and smooth olive-grey bark. The main branches rise vertically, while the subsidiary branches spread outwards and give the whole tree a rounded outline. The slender brown pointed buds give place in April to clear green leaves fringed with delicate silky hairs. The flowers which appear in May are inconspicuous and, as usual with our forest trees, of two kinds; the male, in long-stalked globular clusters, hang from the axils of the lower leaves of a shoot, while the female, each of two or three flowers in a tiny cup (cupule of bracts), stand erect nearer the top of the shoot. In the ripe fruit or mast the four-sided cupule, which has become much enlarged, brown and tough, encloses two or three three-sided rich chestnutbrown fruits, each containing a single seed. It is readily propagated by its seeds. It is a handsome tree in every stage of its growth, but is more injurious to plants under its drip than other trees, so that shade-bearing trees, as holly, yew and thuja, suffer. Its leaves, however, enrich the soil. The beech has a remarkable power of holding the ground where the soil is congenial, and the deep shade prevents the growth of other trees. It is often and most usefully mixed with oak and Scotch fir. The timber is not remarkable for either strength or durability. It was formerly much used in mill-work and turnery; but its principal use at present is in the manufacture of chairs, bedsteads and a variety of minor articles. It makes excellent fuel and charcoal. The copper-beech is a variety with copper-coloured leaves, due to the presence of a red colouring-matter in the sap. There is also a weeping or pendulous-branched variety; and several varieties with more or less cut leaves, are known in cultivation.

The genus Fagus is widely spread in temperate regions, and contains in addition to our native beech, about 15 other species.

A variety (F. sylvatica var. Sieboldi) is a native of Japan, where it is one of the finest and most abundant of the deciduous-leaved forest trees. Fagus'americana is one of the most beautiful and widely-distributed trees of the forests of eastern North America. It was confounded by early European travellers with F. sylvatica, from which it is distinguished by its paler bark and lighter green, more sharply-toothed leaves. Several species are found in Australia and New Zealand, and in the forests of southern Chile and Patagonia. The dense forests which cover the shore of the Straits of Magellan and the mountain-slopes of Tierra del Fuego consist largely of two beeches - one evergreen, Fagus betuloides, and one with deciduous leaves, F. antarctica.


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Simple English

Beech
File:European
European Beech leaves and cupules
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Fagus
L.
Species

Fagus crenata – Japanese Beech
Fagus engleriana – Chinese Beech
Fagus grandifolia – American Beech
Fagus hayatae – Taiwan Beech
Fagus japonica – Japanese Blue Beech
Fagus longipetiolata – South Chinese Beech
Fagus lucida – Shining Beech
Fagus mexicana – Mexican Beech or Haya
Fagus orientalis – Oriental Beech
Fagus sylvatica – European Beech
Fagus taurica

The Beech is a giant tree in the genus Fagus in the plant family Fagaceae. There are about 10 species, all native to Europe.

Look up Fagus in Wikispecies, a directory of species


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