Beech ( Fagus ) is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae , native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America.
Recent classifications recognize 10 to 13 species.
Beeches are deciduous trees that can grow up to 40 meters tall. Its bark is gray and smooth and only rarely shows a small bark formation in old age.
Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech
The leaf blade is glossy green, entire, slightly sinuously toothed, wavy sinuously or finely toothed.
The fruits are triangular, 1 to 1.5 centimeters long, shiny chestnut-brown nuts, the beechnuts. They sit in twos, rarely in threes, in a very woody, soft-spiky, four-lobed fruit cup (cupula).
The beechnuts ripen in autumn.
It is a species of shade in dry climate and light in humid climate, it lives most often in rather cool and mature forest. When in a temperate and sufficiently cool zone, a young beech tree lacks light, it is capable of significantly slowing down its growth, unlike more "pioneer" species (birch, sycamore maple or ash for example). It survives for a long time in the shade of the canopy and in very dense or shady thickets while waiting for a gap that will bring it light.
In the shade, it grows slightly slower than maple or ash, but compensates with an architecture and a leaf habit that allow it to better exploit the light over the entire height of the tree (with a concentration of leaves more important in the middle of the crown and with a rather radial growth); its strategy of capturing and searching for light is said to be horizontal. It also benefits from a more developed leaf surface than other temperate hardwood species.
The European beech ( Fagus sylvatica ) is the most commonly cultivated.
The European species Fagus sylvatica yields a utility timber that is tough but dimensionally unstable.
It is widely used for furniture framing and carcase construction, flooring and engineering purposes, in plywood, and household items like plates, but rarely as a decorative wood. The timber can be used to build chalets, houses, and log cabins.
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