Beech
(Fagus sylvatica)
Simple
Roundish
Alternate
Toothed
blunt teeth
Simple
Roundish
Alternate
Toothless
(sometimes toothed)

toothless leaves
Toothless leaves

Winter twig
Winter twig

winter buds
Winter buds

fruits

distribution map

The leaves are oval, 4-9 cm long and are borne alternately on the twigs. They are silky and hairy when young, but this is soon lost. The margins are untoothed and slightly wavy or have a few blunt teeth. The stalk is short, about 10 mm long.

ID check

Beech is a tall deciduous tree up to 40 m in height with a straight, clean trunk. It is commonest on lime-rich soils and is widely planted throughout the UK.

The trees and the ground below them may be covered in the prickly husks, each containing two nutlets, which develop from tiny female flowers.

The bark is grey and smooth, but may break into small squares.

Facts

  • Young trees and those trimmed for hedges retain their leaves throughout the winter.

  • Beech wood can be turned easily and is ideal for making chairs

  • Chairmakers in the Chilterns were called 'bodgers' and once worked in the woods turning the legs on primitive lathes. This is a craft that has recently been reintroduced in some rural areas of the UK.

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