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European Beech

Fagus sylvatica

Description:

It is a large tree, capable of reaching heights of up to 160 ft tall and 10 ft trunk diameter, though more typically 80–115 ft tall and up to 5 ft trunk diameter. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 13 ft tall. It has a typical lifespan of 150 to 200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years. It tends to have a long, slender light-gray trunk with a narrow crown and erect branches, in isolation with good side light the trunk is short with a large and widely spreading crown with very long branches. The leaves are alternate, simple, and entire or with a slightly crenate margin, 5–10 cm long and 3–7 cm broad, with 6-7 veins on each side of the leaf. The leaves of beech are often not abscissed in the autumn and instead remain on the tree until the spring. This process is called marcescence. This particularly occurs when trees are saplings or when plants are clipped as a hedge (making beech hedges attractive screens, even in winter), but it also often continues to occur on the lower branches when the tree is mature. The European Beech starts to flower when it is between 30–80 years old. The flowers are small catkins which appear shortly after the leaves in spring. The seeds, called beechnuts, are small triangular nuts 15–20 mm long and 7–10 mm wide at the base; there are two nuts in each cupule, maturing in the autumn 5–6 months after pollination. Flower and seed production is particularly abundant in years following a hot, sunny and dry summer, though rarely for two years in a row. The nuts are an important food for birds, rodents and in the past also humans. Slightly toxic to humans if eaten in large quantities due to the tannins they contain, the nuts were nonetheless pressed to obtain an oil in 19th century England that was used for cooking and in lamps. They were also ground to make flour, which could be eaten after the tannins were leached out by soaking.

Habitat:

Habitats include rich mesic woodlands, wooded slopes, bluffs, shady riverbanks, and better-drained areas in swamps. This was at a park.

Notes:

A VERY large and presumably old specimen!

1 species ID suggestions

Beech, Rotbuche
Fagus sylvatica sp.

4 Comments

keithp2012
keithp2012 5 years ago

Thank You for your help!

keithp2012
keithp2012 6 years ago

added a new photo of leaves in Spring

keithp2012
keithp2012 6 years ago

need id

keithp2012
keithp2012 7 years ago

Unknown tree

New York, New York, USA

Lat: 40.70, Long: -73.35

Spotted on Sep 10, 2010
Submitted on Sep 10, 2010

Spotted for mission

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