BEECH - Common beech is a large, deciduous tree, native to southern England and South Wales.
Common name: common beech, European beech
Scientific name: Fagus sylvatica
UK provenance: native
Interesting fact: beech can live for hundreds of years with coppiced stands living for more than 1,000 years.
Overview: mature trees grow to a height of more than 40m and develop a huge domed crown. The bark is smooth, thin and grey, often with slight horizontal etchings. The reddish brown, torpedo-shaped leaf buds form on short stalks, and have a distinctive criss-cross pattern.
Uses - Beech timber is used for a variety of purposes, including fuel, furniture, cooking utensils, tool handles and sports equipment. The wood burns well and was traditionally used to smoke herring. The edible nuts, or masts, were once used to feed pigs, and in France they are still sometimes roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
Beech makes a popular hedging plant. If clipped it doesn't shed its leaves, and provides a year-round dense screen, which provides a great habitat for garden birds.