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What Is Beech?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Beech is a type of tree found on the continents of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is a deciduous variety, usually blooming in spring and producing seed nuts in the fall. Many individuals prize the tree's wood for its burning capacity and for its value in manufacturing practices like furniture making.

All of a tree’s typical components are found on this tree. The plants possess a gray, rather smooth trunk. Small flowers populate the tree when it blooms, typically measuring no more than about 5.9 inches (15 centimeters) long. Some types boast vibrant colors, and are thus a popular fixture in gardens. Fruits are also small and typically categorized as nuts because of their structure and hardness.

The beech tree is a versatile plant, as it can handle many different types of soil. Excess water is a foe of the plant, however. If healthy, these trees may survive for centuries. Ideal conditions for the beech’s growth exist north of the Equator, and therefore on the three aforementioned continents. Similar trees known as Southern beeches do grow south of the Equator, but they belong to a different plant family.

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In locations where beeches do grow, the trees often form dense forests that provide plentiful shade. Therefore, other plant growth in the forests may be small. These trees are, however, often found in forests with sugar maple trees and other tree types. The forests may occur in both high and low elevations, depending on the particular type of beech tree.

Many of the trees and forests have fallen victim to numerous calamities due to the tree’s rather thin bark. Parasitic aphids and fungi have deteriorated many trees. Flooding and fires present yet more dangers.

Like many other tree types, humans have found practical use for beech trees. The wood is perhaps most valued when it is burned and thus damaged, ironically. The long-lasting and adaptable wood constitutes much firewood. Beer brewers also used substances derived from the burned wood.

Manufacturers have also discovered numerous means for using beech wood products. Furniture-makers often use the wood for framing. Other users range from the textile industry to railroad and drum makers. A substance found in the trees known as creosole can even serve medicinal purposes.

Beech nuts are further valued as a food source in many regions. They have a unique if somewhat bitter taste that appeals to numerous consumers. In addition, the nut serves as food for the wildlife that populates beech tree forests.

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