Fagus sylvatica,which can grow to a height of 130 feet or 40 metres, a deciduous tree, which produces it’s flowers that are single sex catkins, polinated by the wind which are produced shortly after the leaves, with a bark of silver-grey bearing the usual spiny beech nut, if beech is used as a hedge it will keep its leaves longer and inautumn/fall can give a rich colour to the boundary of your garden. Native to the U.K., it is more common a sight in southern England as it likes acid or chalk free draining soils, another species used mainly in hedging is the copper beech as it creates a beutiful backdrop for any garden.
There is a sad note however, for at full height it is a truly magnificent tree, but there is the possibility of it rotting from the inside which could make it dangerous. The Southern Beech’s were thought to be related, but are now classed as a separate family, and found in South America, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and New Guinea.
The American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) is probably best known for the carving by Daniel Boone, “D. Boone cilled a bar on tree in year 1760″, unfortunately “other” people have also scarred the trees with their carvings, the tree in it’s defence puts out a wound cork to act like a scab, and this spoils the beauty of the steel grey smooth bark. Although they can grow up to 120 feet, and because they are slow growing they can age between 300 and 400 years. in the years of the colonists they realised that the soil in which it grew, was of a deep rich loam. Fine examples of Beech forests can be seen in Nature preserves at Hamburg Hill in Union County, Forest Glen in Vermillion County, Lincoln Trail State Park in Clark County and Lawrence County.
Although you are probably aware of the leaves being green turning to brown/tan in the fall, there is another tree I should mention, (Fagus sylvatica Purpurea Tricolor or Fagus sylvatica Roseomarginata) which are more suited for your garden as they grow 30 feet by 30 feet and is obviously smaller than the other varieties, and can have different colour patterns on the leaves, green with white centres and a rosy border or purple leaves with a border light pink and rose, the fascination of this tree is that no two leaves are alike.
I nearly forgot to explain about the nuts, usually triangular in shape they grow inside burrs that have a spiky appearance, which ripen in late fall/summer, falling to the ground over several weeks, however if they are not harvested they tend to deteriorate, but if collected and dried can be used in different ways. due to the vast amont of nuts required (they are small in size) nuts are not normally collected for the food value, mainly in France they sometimes use it as a butter substitute, and the most common use is for extracting the oil (in a process of pressing) for the use in salad oil or cooking oil.
In Kentucky where a BLACK BEECH is grown ( you’ve guessed it ) the nuts are black, but being about twice the size of the more common beech, have a far better quality when dry roasted or oil roasted, with various ways to eat them.
In searching for facts on the beech nut, I was amazed at the variation of items associated (but not necessarily containing) with the beech nut, as there are baby foods, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, chewing gum, baby food, coffee, casual sandals and teddy bears, not to miss out on the fact that in December 1930 Amelia Earhart made the first solo flight by a woman in “beech-nut” Pitcairn an auto- giro. FRED.