Difference between revisions of "Beech"

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== See Also ==
* [[Plants]]
{{biology portal}}
== References ==
== References ==
* [http://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=display&classid=FAGUS Classification] USDA.
* [http://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=display&classid=FAGUS Classification] USDA.
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[[Category:deciduous tree]]

Revision as of 20:07, 29 June 2010

Scientific Classification

Beech trees are ten species of deciduous tree belonging to the taxonomic genus Fagus. In the United States, there is only one species of Fagus that grows and it is the Fagus grandifolia, or more commonly known as the American beech. These tall, deciduous trees are present along the eastern side of the U.S. and can last for up to a few hundred years. [1] Its trunk measures to four feet wide and is around one hundred and twenty feet tall. [2] It is great material for home furniture or wood lumber. Beechnuts are also given as a supplier of food. Beech is a reliable source of economic importance. [3]


Drawing of American beech

The thin leaves [4] of a beech tree take on an oval shape with a pointed end. With sharp edges outlining either side, the leaf grows to be around two and a half to five and a half inches long. [5] These leaves hang off of branches that in turn connect to the trunk of the tree. Beech bark, when starting out, is smooth and gray, but as the tree ages and matures, the bark becomes rough and its gray color darkens. [6] Beech sapwood is typically a white color and has a tint of red, its heartwood normally darker. [7] The tree itself reaches to a height of one hundred and twenty feet, if conditions are favorable, but as a whole, they grow to be about sixty to eighty feet tall. [8]


There are two types of reproduction in beech trees: seeding and vegetative. Beech is monoecious (having separate male and female flowers), and start producing flowers around the end of April and the beginning of May.[9] They produce triangle-shaped nuts covered by small, brown burrs. [10] In one single burr, you can find up to three beechnuts. These beechnuts take at least a whole season to fully mature and are ready to fall by the time September comes along. This will happen once winter begins. Though they generate seeds throughout their entire life, beech trees around the ages of forty to sixty years old are capable of creating a larger amount of seeds. They drop down from the beech and are dispersed to different areas by birds and other animals. They either store the nuts for food or take them to be planted elsewhere. [11]

Vegetative reproduction for a beech is when sprouts or "suckers" have grown on the trunk of the tree. They are clones that appear on beech trees when the trunk is removed or absent. These suckers appear often on beeches but most of them are ephemeral, which means that they would last for one day only. Studies have shown that on a sixty year old beech with its trunk cut off, the sprouts died in about four years. In one study of a forty year old beech, the sprouts measured a ten cm in D.B.H. (Diameter Breast Height) and around eleven inches in height. [12]


Leaf of American beech

Seed growth begins between the start of spring and summer. Development won't occur in sodden areas. Rather, the seed will germinate better if it is under a reasonable amount of cover and if the ground isn't overly wet. The percentage of height growth under mild coverage is about fifty-five percent, but if it germinates where exposure to the sun is certain, the percentage is around twenty-five. [13] This is because beech trees are sensitive to sunlight. [14] The best climate for a beech tree can span from a low temperature of negative forty-four degrees Fahrenheit to a higher temperature of one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. [15]

In the United States, Fagus beech trees range in places like southeastern Canada to Florida to eastern Texas. Though they flourish in upland and lowland moist soil, [16] they also grow in two basic types of soil which is the podzolic soil, also called Hapludalf, and the laterite soil, also called the Acrorthox. If an area is not properly drained of water, them the beech will have a shallow or depthless root system. In the North, beech trees can be seen in regions of low altitudes, but in places such as the Appalachians, beech can be seen at regions of high altitudes. More beech is found in northern areas where it has pleasant conditions than in the southern areas. [17]


Fagus beech trees make very beautiful additions to gardens and landscapes. Through this, they provide shade and protection against the light for seasonal recreation. [18] Beech is coveted by animals such as squirrels, deer, and bluejays because of its beechnuts. [19] Humans have also found ways to acquire food from the trees. Leaves are either crushed up or cooked to be made into seasoning, but only the fresh, young leaves have the desired taste. And of course, beechnuts are edible as well. They may be eaten raw or cooked or they can be ground up into powder for cereal and many other things. [20]

Aside from being a source of food, it provides for furniture and decorations in the home. Beech wood is applied to make various types of plywood, firewood, and others. [21] In addition to lumber, its wood is made into charcoal and is a factor for artwork. The oil in beech seeds is used as fuel for lamps. [22]

Beech is needed for medicine. A substance, derived from the wood called creosote, is used to help human and animal medicinal causes. [23] Its bark can be made into a tea or herbal drink to treat lung deficiencies. Leaves and nuts also serve their purpose in the medical field. Leaves, if boiled correctly, can be used to take care of ailments like frostbite or burns and the like. Nuts are given as a vermifuge, which is a drug that fights parasitic worms. [24]