Beech Trees: What Should You Know?

Beech trees are a formidable group of trees with strong characteristics. Along with these characteristics, the leaves of the canopy provide a beautiful shade to any yard or park. The beech tree is a common choice for planting in rural areas, parks, or golf courses. Despite the beech tree being plentifully found, there are only 13 species. It is a slow growing tree but can reach a substantial size because of this; it lives a long time. They live about 400 years. As a matter of fact, it thrives in temperate conditions across the Northern Hemisphere and grows most often in moist soil near creek beds and streams.

So How Many Kinds of Beech Trees Are There?

Researchers separate the beech tree into 13 separate species. All 13 species classify as beech because they produce lime green leaves and beechnuts. It is part of the beach family, Fagaceae. Additionally, the genus of the beech tree separates into two subgenera: Engleriana and Fagus. A majority of beech species fall in the Fagus subgenus. High hanging branches and grayish bark characterize the Fagus subgenus. You can find all species in the Fagus subgenus across North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. Whereas, the Engleriana subgenus is a label only for species of beech found in Eastern Asia. Low-hanging branches and yellowish bark characterize the Engleriana subgenus.

Asian Species Of Beech Tree

Species Of Beech Trees

  • American Beech
  • European Beech
  • Copper Beech
  • Tri-color Beech
  • Japanese Beech
  • Japanese Blue Beech
  • Chinese Beech
  • Dawyck Beech
  • Oak-leaved Beech
  • Weeping Beech
  • Mexican Beech
  • Fernleaf Beech
  • Oriental Beech

The American and European Beech species are the most commonly found. You find both species all across North America and Europe. In contrast, the other species grow more sparsely throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

How Large Do Beech Trees Grow?

The beech tree will grow to be a large tree, however, the growth is slow. They can grow 80 feet in height and their branches can be over 40 feet long in span. The Fagus subgenus has one sturdy trunk that sports grayish bark. Also, the branches are high (excluding the weeping beech). The Engleriana subgenus has many trunks in a cluster with a yellowish bark. The branches are lower with a wider span.

What Does A Beech Tree Look Like?

The beech tree has a thinner bark compared to most trees and the leaves are bright green and sawtooth in shape. Given that the branches on Beech species usually hang rather low, they are not ideal for growing over roads or sidewalks. Beech trees grow both male and female flowers. The male flower is a yellow-green flower. However, the female flower develops into what we know as the beechnut. The leaves are a dark green in the spring and summer and turn to a yellow or brown in the autumn. Meanwhile, the European beech is even known to maintain its canopy throughout the winter.

The beech tree produces and loses its beechnuts in the autumn. Beechnuts are full of nutrients and are an excellent snack for both humans and animals alike in small quantities. Uniquely, the nut is small and triangular shaped. While the tree can provide excellent shelter, it is not common that animals to disperse beechnuts as seen with other tree nuts.

Where Can I Find a Beech Tree?

You can find the Beech tree across the Northern Hemisphere. Europe and North America are home to most of the Beech trees in the world. The root system is shallow and can re-surface above the earth as it grows. With this in mind, the beech thrives in a damp and sandy soil. Creeks and riverbeds are the best locations to find a beech. In North America, you can find the most Beech trees in Ohio and Missouri. However, the American Beech is located all over the East Coast of the United States, stretching as far as the Mississippi River.

Europe is the leading location to find Beech. For example, the European beech is the most plentiful, even in the United States. The European beech is native to Great Britain and Scotland and spread to the rest of Europe during the last Ice Age.

How Long Can A Beech Tree Live?

The beech tree is a hardy species and can live for over 400 years. The beech family is one of the oldest trees throughout history. The fossil record shows a species of beech as far back as 80 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. Researchers believe last Ice Age dispersed the beech more widely throughout our planet. A shallow root system makes them more susceptible to strong wings and poor weather, which can kill younger trees.

Can I Grow A Beech Tree?

You can grow the beech tree with relative ease from a seed. It is ideal to start the seed inside. The beech seed is quick to germinate, but slowly growing after this stage. Because of its shallow root system, the sapling grows to one to two feet before transplanting outside. Once the sapling transplants, you must protect it from wildlife and damaging weather. You need to plant a beech sapling during winter when everything is dormant. The ideal time frame is from October to February. When the sapling goes through a couple of seasons, it will grow slowly. The tree will only add six inches to a foot every year in growth. A mature beech is close to 75 years old. You can shape many species of beech into a hedge if you require. Starting from a sapling, this is easy to do once you master the skills of shaping. If a tree is the shape you prefer, the European beech is a far superior species for both appearance and hardiness.

It Is Time To BRANCH Out Into Some Fun Tree Facts!

  • The American beech is not as hardy as the European beech. Although the oldest American beech are close to 200 years old, this does not touch the age of European beech. You can find the oldest beech tree in Austria and is 548 years old, according to researchers.
  • In the event that you travel to Sussex in Britain, you will find the tallest beech is 144 feet tall, which is estimated to be 200 years old. 
  • Denmark has named the European beech tree as the national tree.

What Are Some Uses For Beech Trees?

Natural Uses

The beech is one of the most commonly used ornamental trees throughout the world. It is a beautiful tree that creates ample shade. You can find the beech providing shade in parks, golf courses, and national parks. Similarly, the beech provides shelter to many animals, including birds and squirrels. Larger animals like rabbits will use the dead beech tree trunks to form dens. Beechnuts are a much desired snack by both humans and animals. Professional and amateur chefs often add beechnuts to recipes around the world. However, it needs to be noted that the beechnut is toxic in large quantities to both humans and animals. It is likely why animals do not distribute the nuts the same way they do for other nuts. If the beechnuts are uncooked, then they pose the greatest threat. A roasted beechnut is much less dangerous. The bark has a rather astringent effect and has been used to treat various skin afflictions for centuries.

Artistic Uses

The beech tree is used to form hedges. You can shape hedges into walls and all kinds of other artistic ventures. The beech tree holds symbolization in different cultures as both death and revelations, for example. Furthermore, the revelation drives a change in your life, likewise the tree grows and changes with the seasons. The wood itself is rarely used as a decorative wood.

Residential/Commercial Uses

The wood from a beech tree has an excellent burn rate. It is one of the best woods to use for firewood. It is a softer wood and can be split with ease, but it will burn for a long time and provide ample heat. In fact, Budweiser uses beech wood in its fermentation process. We can use beech throughout construction from furniture to flooring, but it can be dimensionally unstable. Contractors do not prefer beech wood over other hardwoods. Gunsmiths often use beech wood for stocks on rifles. It is more plentiful compared to higher end timber and considered a cheaper alternative.

 Wrap Up

All things considered, the beech is a hardy tree. It is also slow growing and can take close to a century to reach full maturity. You can find beech throughout all of North America and Europe. European beech is by far the most familiar species of beech found. The beech has a multitude of uses. For example, we seek the timber out for firewood because of the qualities the wood possesses. The fruit of the beech , the beechnut, can be a delicious treat, but as noted, you must consume with caution. Most beech species keep their sawtooth-shaped leaves throughout winter.

To summarize, the leaves create a beautiful canopy of shade throughout spring, summer, and autumn. Additionally, it is used all over for ornamental addition to a property. The beech would be easy to grow on your own. Because of its slow growth, you will wait a long time to see the fruits of your labor.

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