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Common Beech

Fagus sylvatica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fagaceae (Beech)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 metres tall
Gardens, parks, towns, woodland.

Green, no petals
Male and female yellowish-green catkins grow together on the same tree. Male catkins dangle loosely from stalks at the end of twigs. Female catkins exist in pairs and are surrounded by a cup, later turning into beech nuts in autumn. Flowers only appear on mature trees.
The nuts are called 'beech mast' and are brown 3-sided nuts with a tough bristly husk on the outside.
Deciduous. Pointed leaf buds. Oval, up to 9cm long and pale green and silky when young, turning dark green later in the year. Hairless. Leaves turn yellow or orange in autumn.
Other Names:
European Beech.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Fagus sylvatica, also known as European beech or common beech, is a deciduous tree in the family Fagaceae. It is native to Europe and is widely cultivated as an ornamental tree. The tree has a tall, slender trunk and a narrow, oval-shaped canopy. Its leaves are dark green, oval-shaped, and have a smooth, glossy texture. In the fall, the leaves turn yellow or bronze before dropping off. Beech trees produce small, triangular nuts that are encased in a spiky husk. The nuts are an important food source for a variety of animals, including birds and small mammals. European beech is commonly used as a shade tree in parks and gardens, and its wood is used for a variety of purposes, including furniture, flooring, and firewood.


Common Beech, scientifically known as Fagus sylvatica, is a deciduous tree species native to Europe and parts of Asia. This species is highly valued for its aesthetic beauty and its ecological significance. Beech trees are known for their smooth and gray bark, which provides a striking contrast against the green leaves in the summer months. In this article, we will explore the various characteristics, benefits, and uses of the Common Beech tree.

Characteristics: Common Beech trees are large and can grow up to 40 meters tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 meters. The leaves are oval-shaped and have a smooth, glossy appearance. The tree produces small flowers in the spring, which are followed by edible nuts in the autumn. The bark of the Common Beech is smooth and gray, and is often covered in small grooves and ridges.

Ecological Benefits: Beech trees are an important part of the ecosystem and provide a range of benefits to the environment. They are a food source for wildlife such as deer, squirrels, and birds, who feed on the nuts produced by the tree. Beech trees also provide habitat for a variety of bird species, insects, and other wildlife. The trees also play an important role in controlling soil erosion and improving water quality by slowing the flow of water and filtering pollutants from the soil.

Uses: Common Beech is widely used for a variety of purposes, both practical and ornamental. The wood of the beech tree is hard and durable, making it an ideal choice for furniture, flooring, and cabinetry. The wood is also used for firewood and for the production of paper and cardboard. In addition to its practical uses, beech trees are also popular for ornamental purposes, with their striking appearance and symmetrical shape making them a popular choice for landscaping and parks.

Cultivation: Beech trees are relatively easy to grow and are suitable for a range of soils, from well-drained to heavy clay. They prefer full sun, but will also tolerate partial shade. When planting, it is important to select a site that provides enough space for the tree to grow to its full size, as beech trees can become quite large. Beech trees are also relatively low maintenance, with minimal pruning required to maintain their shape and form.

Conclusion: Common Beech is a remarkable tree species that is highly valued for its beauty and ecological significance. Its versatility and ease of cultivation make it a popular choice for both practical and ornamental purposes. Whether you are looking for a tree to provide shade in your yard, or you are seeking a wood for furniture or flooring, the Common Beech tree is an excellent choice. So, if you are looking to enhance the beauty and ecological value of your landscape, consider planting a Common Beech tree today.

Despite its popularity, Common Beech is not immune to threats and challenges. One of the biggest threats to this species is the Beech Bark Disease, which is caused by a combination of two invasive species, the beech scale insect and a fungus. The insect feeds on the sap of the tree, which opens up wounds in the bark and allows the fungus to infect the tree. The disease can weaken and kill the tree, and has caused significant damage to beech forests in North America.

Another issue facing Common Beech trees is climate change. The species is not well adapted to extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves and droughts, and is therefore susceptible to damage and death in such conditions. Additionally, rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns can affect the timing of growth and development of the trees, and may even lead to declines in the overall populations of Common Beech in some regions.

To address these threats, it is important to take proactive measures to protect and conserve Common Beech and its habitats. This may include the use of disease-resistant cultivars, the implementation of best practices for managing and treating beech bark disease, and the protection and preservation of beech forests and other natural habitats. Additionally, it is important to continue monitoring the impacts of climate change on this species, and to work to mitigate these impacts where possible.

It is also worth mentioning that Common Beech has cultural significance in many countries. In Europe, beech forests have been part of the landscape for thousands of years, and have been mentioned in many myths, legends, and folklore. For example, in ancient Greece, beech trees were associated with the goddess Demeter, and were believed to be sacred. In medieval times, beech forests were also used for pagan rituals and as places of refuge for criminals and outcasts.

Today, beech forests are also popular for recreational activities such as hiking, camping, and picnicking. In many countries, beech forests are protected as natural reserves or parks, and are popular destinations for tourists and nature lovers. This highlights the importance of Common Beech not only for its ecological benefits, but also for its cultural and recreational value.

In terms of economic value, Common Beech is a valuable resource for the forest products industry. In addition to the uses of its wood mentioned earlier, the nuts produced by the tree are also harvested and processed for food. The nuts, known as beech nuts or beech mast, are a rich source of food for wildlife and are also used in the production of oil, flour, and other products.

Overall, Common Beech is a multifaceted species that offers many benefits and values. From its aesthetic beauty and ecological significance, to its cultural and economic value, this tree species is a vital and valuable component of many landscapes and ecosystems. By protecting and conserving Common Beech, we can ensure that this species continues to play a vital role in our lives for many generations to come.

It is also worth mentioning that Common Beech has a unique and fascinating growth habit. Unlike many other tree species that have a single trunk, Common Beech often develops multiple trunks from the base, creating a spreading and multi-stemmed form. This growth habit makes Common Beech well-suited for use as a specimen tree in landscaping and urban settings. The tree's attractive form and beautiful foliage make it a popular choice for parks, gardens, and other public spaces.

Another interesting aspect of Common Beech is its long lifespan. With proper care and growing conditions, this species can live for several hundred years, making it a valuable addition to any landscape. It is also a slow-growing tree, which allows it to develop a sturdy and robust form over time. This, combined with its attractive appearance, makes Common Beech a popular choice for planting as a long-term investment in the landscape.

In addition to its ornamental and recreational uses, Common Beech also has important ecological benefits. The tree provides important habitat for a wide range of wildlife species, including birds, mammals, and insects. Its leaves and nuts are also important food sources for wildlife, and the tree provides important cover and shelter for many species. This highlights the importance of Common Beech as a key component of many ecosystems and its role in supporting biodiversity.

Finally, it is worth noting that Common Beech is also a popular and important species for forestry and timber production. The tree is well-regarded for its dense and durable wood, which is used in a wide range of products, including furniture, flooring, and veneers. Additionally, the wood is prized for its decorative figure, which is often used to create intricate patterns and designs.

In conclusion, Common Beech is a versatile and valuable species with a wide range of uses and benefits. From its ornamental beauty and ecological significance, to its cultural and economic value, this species is an important part of many landscapes and ecosystems. By protecting and conserving Common Beech, we can ensure that this species continues to play a vital role in our lives for many generations to come.


Common Beech filmed in Anderton, Lancashire on the 5th February 2023 and 18th June 2022.


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