Common Beech Tree General Information
The Common Beech Tree, sometimes referred to as the European Beech, is a deciduous tree belonging to the beech family Fagaceae. It is Native to Southern England and South of Wales, but has now been introduced to many other areas of the UK. The Common Beech is also found throughout Central and Western Europe. The wood has been used in the manufacture of numerous objects and utensils including bowls and wooden spoons. Today it is often used in furniture, laminates and veneers and also makes excellent firewood. The mighty Beech is a stunning tree with beautiful autumnal colours and is a very popular ornamental tree in parks and gardens. Due to its very low maintenance, this tree is very popular with homeowners. Once planted the Beech tree can live up to 400 years.
Description of a Common Beech Tree
A deciduous tree that grows straight and tall to heights of between 80 and 100 feet and with a spreading crown. The bark is very different from that of other trees, being very smooth and grey in colour and will not naturally split or flake. The leaves are oval shaped, green in spring and summer, changing in autumn to chocolate brown, yellow, red and gold. The Beech flowers April to May, with the flowers being small and a yellowish green in colour. Both male and female flowers are on the same tree, with the female flowers producing beechnuts which mature in the autumn following pollination. Beechnuts are safe for human consumption provided they are not eaten in large quantities due to the tannins they contain.
Cultivation of a Common Beech Tree
This tree likes a moist, well drained soil of either chalk, clay, loam or sand, will do well in full sun or partial shade and can be placed in sheltered or exposed spots. Beech do not appear to have a preference as to which direction they are facing. The roots are shallow so the Beech can suffer from dieback in times of drought and should not be overcrowded by surrounding shrubs that will cover its extensive root system. Be careful not to overwater as water logged soil can be detrimental to Beech Trees.
Pests & Diseases of a Common Beech Tree
Aphids and beech bark scale can be a problem, with beech scale being one of the most destructive to the tree, these appear as wart like spots on the bark. This tree can also be affected by coral spot and heart and root rot in mature trees. Root rot causes stem lesions, root death and a decline in health. The thin bark is also vulnerable to attack by the grey squirrel and wood boring insects. Mildew, a common fungal infection appears on young leaves and branches as white and powdery so is easy to spot on the trees dark green foliage.
Regularly monitor your trees for any signs of diseases or pests and contact a professional tree surgeon should you have any concerns, to quickly contain the problem.
Pruning of a Common Beech Tree
For shaping a Beech into a tree, a winter prune between November and February is best. Branches that are not required can be removed and shoots that grow straight up (often referred to as suckers) should also be removed completely. Branches that grow sideways, crossing other branches in the crown also need to be removed as they may damage the main branches. Make sure you leave the branch collar intact and not to use any wound sealants as there are found to be bad for trees.
If growing as a bush in your garden, then March is the best time to give the Beech tree a trim, pruning evenly to avoid any gaping holes.
Beech also makes excellent hedging, which will need to be trimmed annually in August.