Beech

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Beech
Fagus sylvatica Purpurea JPG4a.jpg
European beech ( Fagus sylvatica )
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Subfamily: Fagoideae
Genus:Fagus
L.
Species

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

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Deciduous trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally

In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term deciduous (/dɪˈsɪdʒuəs/) means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves, usually in the autumn; to the shedding of petals, after flowering; and to the shedding of ripe fruit.

Tree Perennial woody plant with elongated trunk

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a woody trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. In wider definitions, the taller palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboos are also trees. Trees have been in existence for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are just over 3 trillion mature trees in the world.

Contents

Recent classification systems of the genus recognize 10 to 13 species in two distinct subgenera, Engleriana and Fagus. [2] [3] The Engleriana subgenus is found only in East Asia, and is notably distinct from the Fagus subgenus in that these beeches are low-branching trees, often made up of several major trunks with yellowish bark. Further differentiating characteristics include the whitish bloom on the underside of the leaves, the visible tertiary leaf veins, and a long, smooth cupule-peduncle. Fagus japonica , Fagus engleriana , and the species F. okamotoi, proposed by the botanist Chung-Fu Shen in 1992, comprise this subgenus. [3] The better known Fagus subgenus beeches are high-branching with tall, stout trunks and smooth silver-grey bark. This group includes Fagus sylvatica , Fagus grandifolia , Fagus crenata , Fagus lucida , Fagus longipetiolata , and Fagus hayatae . [3] The classification of the European beech, Fagus sylvatica is complex, with a variety of different names proposed for different species and subspecies within this region (for example Fagus taurica , Fagus orientalis , and Fagus moesica [4] ). Research suggests that beeches in Eurasia differentiated fairly late in evolutionary history, during the Miocene. The populations in this area represent a range of often overlapping morphotypes, though genetic analysis does not clearly support separate species. [5]

<i>Fagus japonica</i> species of plant

Fagus japonica, known as the Japanese beech,Japanese blue beech or in Japanese as inubuna or kurobuna, is a deciduous tree of the beech family Fagaceae. It is native to Japan, where it is one of the main tree species in natural deciduous forests particularly on the Pacific side of the country.

<i>Fagus engleriana</i> species of plant

Fagus engleriana, the Engler's beech, also known as Chinese beech, is a species of beech native to central and eastern China where it grows in broad-leaved and mixed forests. It can reach 25 m (82 ft) in height.

<i>Fagus sylvatica</i> species of plant

Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech, is a deciduous tree belonging to the beech family Fagaceae.

Within its family, the Fagaceae, recent research has suggested that Fagus is the evolutionarily most basal group. [6] The southern beeches (genus Nothofagus ) previously thought closely related to beeches, are now treated as members of a separate family, the Nothofagaceae (which remains a member of the order Fagales). They are found in Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Argentina, and Chile (principally Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego).

<i>Nothofagus</i> genus of plants

Nothofagus, also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of 43 species of trees and shrubs native to the Southern Hemisphere in southern South America and Australasia. The species are ecological dominants in many temperate forests in these regions. Some species are reportedly naturalised in Germany and Great Britain. The genus has a rich fossil record of leaves, cupules and pollen, with fossils extending into the late Cretaceous period and occurring in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and South America. In the past, they were included in the family Fagaceae, but genetic tests revealed them to be genetically distinct, and they are now included in their own family, the Nothofagaceae.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is the most commonly cultivated, although few important differences are seen between species aside from detail elements such as leaf shape. The leaves of beech trees are entire or sparsely toothed, from 5–15 cm long and 4–10 cm broad. Beeches are monoecious, bearing both male and female flowers on the same plant. The small flowers are unisexual, the female flowers borne in pairs, the male flowers wind-pollinating catkins. They are produced in spring shortly after the new leaves appear. The bark is smooth and light grey. 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 husk can have a variety of spine- to scale-like appendages, the character of which is, in addition to leaf shape, one of the primary ways beeches are differentiated. [3] The nuts are edible, though bitter (though not nearly as bitter as acorns) with a high tannin content, and are called beechnuts or beechmast.

Leaf organ of a vascular plant, composing its foliage

A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant and is the principal lateral appendage of the stem. The leaves and stem together form the shoot. Leaves are collectively referred to as foliage, as in "autumn foliage". some of the leafs have colour or shaps

Flower Structure found in some plants; aka: blossom

A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants. The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may facilitate outcrossing or allow selfing. Some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization (parthenocarpy). Flowers contain sporangia and are the site where gametophytes develop. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen. After fertilization, the ovary of the flower develops into fruit containing seeds.

A catkin or ament is a slim, cylindrical flower cluster, with inconspicuous or no petals, usually wind-pollinated (anemophilous) but sometimes insect-pollinated. They contain many, usually unisexual flowers, arranged closely along a central stem which is often drooping. They are found in many plant families, including Betulaceae, Fagaceae, Moraceae, and Salicaceae. For some time, they were believed to be a key synapomorphy among the proposed Hamamelididae, also known as Amentiferae. Based on molecular phylogeny work, it is now believed that Hamamelididae is a polyphyletic group. This suggests that the catkin flower arrangement has arisen at least twice independently by convergent evolution, in Fagales and in Salicaceae. Such a convergent evolution raises questions about what the ancestral inflorescence characters might be and how catkins did evolve in these two lineages.

The name of the tree (Latin fagus, whence the species name; cognate with English "beech") is of Indo-European origin, and played an important role in early debates on the geographical origins of the Indo-European people. Greek φηγός is from the same root, but the word was transferred to the oak tree (e.g. Iliad 16.767) as a result of the absence of beech trees in Greece. [7]

Habitat

Beech grows on a wide range of soil types, acidic or basic, provided they are not waterlogged. The tree canopy casts dense shade, and carpets the ground thickly with leaf litter.

In North America, they often form beech-maple climax forests by partnering with the sugar maple.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Beech-maple forest

A beech-maple forest or a maple beech forest is a climax mesic closed canopy hardwood forest. It is primarily composed of American beech and sugar maple trees which co-dominate the forest and which are the pinnacle of plant succession in their range. A form of this forest was the most common forest type in the Northeastern United States when it was settled by Europeans and remains widespread but scattered today.

Climax community ecological community that has reached its final steady state

In ecology, climax community, or climatic climax community, is a historic term for a biological community of plants, animals, and fungi which, through the process of ecological succession in the development of vegetation in an area over time, have reached a steady state. This equilibrium was thought to occur because the climax community is composed of species best adapted to average conditions in that area. The term is sometimes also applied in soil development. Nevertheless, it has been found that a "steady state" is more apparent than real, particularly if long-enough periods of time are taken into consideration. Notwithstanding, it remains a useful concept.

The beech blight aphid (Grylloprociphilus imbricator) is a common pest of American beech trees. Beeches are also used as food plants by some species of Lepidoptera.

Beech bark is extremely thin and scars easily. Since the beech tree has such delicate bark, carvings, such as lovers' initials and other forms of graffiti, remain because the tree is unable to heal itself. [8]

Beech bark disease is a fungal infection that attacks the American beech through damage caused by scale insects. [9] Infection can lead to the death of the tree. [10]

Distribution

Britain and Ireland

European beech with unusual aerial roots in a wet Scottish glen: The tree also sports an epiphytic fern. Beech Aerial Roots.JPG
European beech with unusual aerial roots in a wet Scottish glen: The tree also sports an epiphytic fern.

Fagus sylvatica was a late entrant to Great Britain after the last glaciation, and may have been restricted to basic soils in the south of England. Some suggest that it was introduced by Neolithic tribes who planted the trees for their edible nuts. [11] 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. [12] Large areas of the Chilterns are covered with beech woods, which are habitat to the common bluebell and other flora. The Cwm Clydach National Nature Reserve in southeast Wales was designated for its beech woodlands, which are believed to be on the western edge of their natural range in this steep limestone gorge. [13]

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. [14]

A campaign by Friends of the Rusland Beeches [15] and South Lakeland Friends of the Earth [16] launched in 2007 to reclassify the beech as native in Cumbria. [17] The campaign is backed by Tim Farron, MP, who tabled a motion on 3 December 2007 regarding the status of beech in Cumbria. [18]

Today, beech is widely planted for hedging and in deciduous woodlands, and mature, regenerating stands occur throughout mainland Britain below about 650 m. [19] The tallest and longest hedge in the world (according to Guinness World Records ) is the Meikleour Beech Hedge in Meikleour, Perth and Kinross, Scotland.

Continental Europe

European beech (Fagus sylvatica) Grib skov.jpg
European beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Beechnuts in autumn Beechnuts during autumn.jpg
Beechnuts in autumn
Beech forest on Mount Olympus in Greece Olympus8.jpg
Beech forest on Mount Olympus in Greece

The common European beech ( Fagus sylvatica ) grows naturally in Denmark and southern Norway and Sweden up to about the 57–59°N. The most northern known naturally growing (not planted) beech trees are found in a small grove north of Bergen on the west coast of Norway with the North Sea nearby. Near the city of Larvik is the largest naturally occurring beech forest in Norway. Planted beeches are grown much farther north along the Norwegian coast.

Some research suggests that early agriculture patterns supported the spread of beech in continental Europe. Research has linked the establishment of beech stands in Scandinavia and Germany with cultivation and fire disturbance, i.e. early agricultural practices. Other areas which have a long history of cultivation, Bulgaria for example, do not exhibit this pattern, so how much human activity has influenced the spread of beech trees is as yet unclear. [20]

Beech Tree photographed by Eugene Atget, circa 1910-1915 Eugene Atget - Beech Tree - Google Art Project.jpg
Beech Tree photographed by Eugène Atget, circa 1910–1915

As a naturally growing forest tree, it marks the important border between the European deciduous forest zone and the northern pine forest zone. This border is important for wildlife and fauna, and is a sharp line along the Swedish western coast, which gets broader toward the south. In Denmark and Scania, at the southernmost peak of the Scandinavian peninsula, south-west of the natural spruce boundary, it is the most common forest tree. In Norway, the beech migration was very recent, and the species has not reached its distribution potential. Thus, the occurrence of oak in Norway is used as an indicator of the border between the temperate deciduous forest and the boreal spruce – pine forest.

Fagus sylvatica is one of the most common hardwood trees in north central Europe, in France alone comprising about 15% of all nonconifers.

North America

North American beech (Fagus grandifolia), seen in autumn Beech with Branches.jpg
North American beech ( Fagus grandifolia ), seen in autumn

The American beech ( Fagus grandifolia ) occurs across much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, with a disjunct population in Mexico. It is the only Fagus species in the Western Hemisphere. Prior to the Pleistocene Ice Age, it is believed to have spanned the entire width of the continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, but now is confined to east of the Great Plains. F. grandifolia tolerates hotter climates than European species, but is not planted much as an ornamental due to slower growth and less resistance to urban pollution. It most commonly occurs as an overstory component in the northern part of its range with sugar maple, transitioning to other forest types further south such as beech-magnolia. American beech is rarely encountered in developed areas unless as a remnant of a forest that was cut down for land development.

Asia

Chinese beech (Fagus engleriana) Fagus engleriana - Morris Arboretum - DSC00475.JPG
Chinese beech ( Fagus engleriana )

East Asia is home to five species of Fagus, only one of which (F. crenata) is occasionally planted in Western countries. Smaller than F. sylvatica and F. grandifolia, Japanese beech is one of the most common hardwoods in its native range.

Uses

Beech wood is an excellent firewood, easily split and burning for many hours with bright but calm flames. Slats of beech wood are washed in caustic soda to leach out any flavor or aroma characteristics and are spread around the bottom of fermentation tanks for Budweiser beer. This provides a complex surface on which the yeast can settle, so that it does not pile up, preventing yeast autolysis which would contribute off-flavors to the beer. Beech logs are burned to dry the malt used in some German smoked beers, giving the beers their typical flavor.[ citation needed ] Beech is also used to smoke Westphalian ham, [21] various sausages, [22] and some cheeses.

Some drums are made from beech, which has a tone between those of maple and birch, the two most popular drum woods.

The textile modal is a kind of rayon often made wholly from reconstituted cellulose of pulped beech wood. [23] [24] [25]

The European species Fagus sylvatica yields a utility timber that is tough but dimensionally unstable. It weighs about 720 kg per cubic metre and is widely used for furniture framing and carcase construction, flooring and engineering purposes, in plywood and in household items like plates, but rarely as a decorative wood. The timber can be used to build chalets, houses, and log cabins.

Beech wood is used for the stocks of military rifles when traditionally preferred woods such as walnut are scarce or unavailable or as a lower-cost alternative. [26]

The fruit of the beech tree, known as beechnuts or mast, is found in small burrs that drop from the tree in autumn. They are small, roughly triangular and edible, with a bitter, astringent, or in some cases, mild and nut-like taste. They have a high enough fat content that they can be pressed for edible oil. Fresh from the tree, beech leaves in spring are a fine salad vegetable, as sweet as a mild cabbage, though much softer in texture. [27] The young leaves can be steeped in gin for several weeks, the liquor strained off and sweetened to give a light green/yellow liqueur called beech leaf noyau.

In antiquity, the barks of beech tree were used by Indo-European people for writing-related purposes, especially in religious context. [28] Beech wood tablets were a common writing material in Germanic societies before the development of paper. The Old English bōc [29] and Old Norse bók [30] both have the primary sense of "beech" but also a secondary sense of "book", and it is from bōc that the modern word derives. [31] In modern German, the word for "book" is Buch, with Buche meaning "beech tree". In modern Dutch, the word for "book" is boek, with beuk meaning "beech tree". In Swedish, these words are the same, bok meaning both "beech tree" and "book". Similarly, in Russian, the word for beech is бук (buk), while that for "letter" (as in a letter of the alphabet) is буква (bukva).

The pigment bistre was made from beech wood soot.

Beech litter raking as a replacement for straw in husbandry is an old nontimber practice in forest management that has been widespread in Europe since the 17th century. [32] [33] [34] [35] Beech has been listed as one of the 38 plants whose flowers are used to prepare Bach flower remedies. [36]

As an ornamental

The beech most commonly grown as an ornamental tree is the European beech (Fagus sylvatica), widely cultivated in North America and 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 Botanic Garden in the Scottish Borders, one of the four garden sites of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Europe is also home to the lesser-known Oriental beech (F. orientalis) and Crimean beech (F. taurica).

See also

Related Research Articles

Fagaceae family of plants

Fagaceae is a family of flowering plants that includes beeches and oaks, and comprises eight genera with about 927 species. The Fagaceae are deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs, characterized by alternate simple leaves with pinnate venation, unisexual flowers in the form of catkins, and fruit in the form of cup-like (cupule) nuts. Their leaves are often lobed and both petioles and stipules are generally present. Leaf characteristics of Fagaceae can be very similar to those of Rosaceae and other rose motif families. Their fruits lack endosperm and lie in a scaly or spiny husk that may or may not enclose the entire nut, which may consist of one to seven seeds. In the oaks, genus Quercus, the fruit is a non-valved nut called an acorn. The husk of the acorn in most oaks only forms a cup in which the nut sits. Other members of the family have fully enclosed nuts. Fagaceae is one of the most ecologically important woody plant families in the Northern Hemisphere, as oaks form the backbone of temperate forest in North America, Europe, and Asia and one of the most significant sources of wildlife fodder.

<i>Nyssa sylvatica</i> species of plant

Nyssa sylvatica, commonly known as Tupelo, Black gum, sour gum, is a medium-sized deciduous tree native to eastern North America from the coastal Northeast USA and southern Ontario south to central Florida and eastern Texas, as well as Mexico.

<i>Fagus grandifolia</i> species of plant

Fagus grandifolia, the American beech or North American beech, is the species of beech tree native to the eastern United States and extreme southeast Canada.

<i>Castanopsis</i> genus of plants

Castanopsis, commonly called chinquapin or chinkapin, is a genus of evergreen trees belonging to the beech family, Fagaceae. The genus contains about 120 species, which are today restricted to tropical and subtropical eastern Asia. A total of 58 species are native to China, with 30 endemic; the other species occur further south, through Indochina to Indonesia, mountainous areas of Taiwan, and also in Japan. The English name chinkapin is shared with other related plants, including the golden chinkapins of the Pacific United States, which are sometimes included within Castanopsis but are more often considered a separate but very closely related genus, Chrysolepis.

<i>Fagus orientalis</i> species of plant

Fagus orientalis, commonly known as the Oriental beech, is a deciduous tree in the beech family Fagaceae. It is native to Eurasia, in Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

<i>Fagus mexicana</i> species of plant

Fagus mexicana, the Mexican beech or haya, is a species of beech endemic to northeastern and central Mexico, where it occurs from southwest Tamaulipas south to Hidalgo and Puebla. It is restricted to high altitude cloud forests in the Sierra Madre Oriental.

<i>Epifagus</i> A genus of flowering plants belonging to the broomrape family

Epifagus virginiana — commonly called beech drops — is an obligate parasitic plant which grows and subsists on the roots of American beech. It is a member of the broomrape family. Epifagus is monotypic—containing only E. virginiana. The name Epifagus derives from Greek "epi" meaning "on" or "upon", and "Fagus" which is the genus name of beech.

Phytophthora cambivora is a plant pathogen that causes ink disease in European chestnut trees. Ink disease, also caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi, is thought to have been present in Europe since the 18th century, and causes chestnut trees to wilt and die; major epidemics occurred during the 19th and 20th centuries. P. cinnamomi and P. cambivora are now present throughout Europe since the 1990s. Ink disease has resurged, often causing high mortality of trees, particularly in Portugal, Italy, and France. It has also been isolated from a number of different species since the 1990s, including:

<i>Biscogniauxia nummularia</i> species of fungus

Biscogniauxia nummularia is a plant pathogen in the family Xylariaceae, known as the beech tarcrust. The specific epithet is derived from the Latin "nummus" meaning a coin, referring to the often rounded and coin-like encrustations.

<i>Fagus crenata</i> species of plant

Fagus crenata, known as the Siebold's beech,Japanese beech, or buna, is a deciduous tree of the beech genus, Fagus, of the family Fagaceae. It is native to Japan, where it is widespread and often one of the dominant trees of Japan's deciduous forests. It is found from the Oshima Peninsula in Hokkaidō south to the Ōsumi Peninsula in Kyūshū. In north-east Honshū it grows in large stands from sea level up to 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) but in the south-west of its range it is restricted to mountainous areas and occurs in small, isolated populations. It grows in well-drained, loamy or sandy soils.

English Lowlands beech forests

The English Lowlands beech forests are a terrestrial ecoregion in Northern Europe, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). Part of the Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome in the Palaearctic ecozone, it covers 45,600 km2 (17,600 sq mi) of Southern England, approximately as far as the border with Devon and South Wales in the west, into the Severn valley in the north-west, into the East Midlands in the north, and up to the border of Norfolk in the north-east of its range. The WWF code for this ecoregion is PA0421.

F. ferruginea may refer to:

<i>Boletus pallidus</i> species of fungus

Boletus pallidus is a species of bolete fungus. it was described by Charles Christopher Frost in 1874. The bolete was reported from a Mexican beech forest in Hidalgo, Mexico in 2010.

Phytophthora pseudosyringae is a semi-papillate homothallic soil-borne plant pathogen causing root and collar rot of deciduous tree species in Europe. It is associated with necrotic fine roots and stem necroses of Fagus sylvatica and Alnus glutinosa, and isolates are moderately aggressive to fine roots of oaks and beech (Nothofagus), highly aggressive to holly leaves and apple fruits, and slightly pathogenic to alder bark. It belongs to the class of oomycetes and is often described as a ‘fungal-like’ organism since they form a heterotrophic mycelium as the ‘true fungi’, but in contrast, their cell wall lacks chitin and is composed only of cellulose and glucans.

A Fau de Verzy is either a Dwarf Beech, a dwarf oak tree, or a dwarf chestnut tree. These grow in the forest of Verzy, 25 km south of Reims in France. In this forest are less than a thousand dwarf beeches, some dozen dwarf oaks and some dwarf chestnuts, but this article speaks in the main about dwarf beeches.

<i>Quercus delgadoana</i> species of plant

Quercus delgadoana is an endangered species of oak in the family Fagaceae, found in eastern Mexico. It was originally misidentified as other members of the genus Quercus, but was determined as a new species in 2011.

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