Skip to Main Content Ray Howard Library Shoreline Community College

Tree Campus: European Beech

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


European Beech

Fagus sylvatica (FAGACEAE)



S. Brit., Europe, Mediterranean, Turkey



"Grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) can be very damaging to trees around the age of 40 years, attacking the bases of stems in particular. Squirrels probably present one of the greatest constraints to growing the species. In the south of England much of the timber which has grown since the introduction of the grey squirrel in the 1940s is damaged and of little value. In fact, the time of arrival of grey squirrels in any locality can be dated 2 quite accurately from the bases of felled beech trees by counting the annual rings back to the first one which shows damage from gnawing...

Beech (Fagus sylvativca L.) reached Britain in the late Boreal period, but for a long period it seems to have remained rare. Vera (2000) has proposed that the natural forests of western Europe were a mixture of grassland, scrub and high forest replacing one another in a cyclical mosaic driven by large herbivores such as bison and aurochs. This would favour oak (Quercus spp.) over beech despite the greater shade tolerance of the latter. Nevertheless after the Bronze Age it increased rapidly in southern England and Wales. This spread may have been linked to more widespread disturbance of the original forests and in some sites its current abundance is certainly more recent. In Epping Forest there are signs of beech increasing after the late Saxon period ; while in the Chilterns it has been particularly favoured in the last 200 years. Beyond what is normally taken as its 'native distribution' it has been widely planted and may regenerate naturally; indeed there are indications that even without human assistance it could, by now, have spread to northern England and north Wales." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"The beech woods of the Chilterns were originally managed for the furniture industry that was based in High Wycombe and dates from about 1870." [1]



"The timber of beech is strong, straight grained, and even textured. The average density of the wood at 15% moisture content is about 720 kg/m3. It is easily turned and worked and bends well. These properties make it very suitable for the manufacture of furniture, turnery, and formerly kitchen utensils. It is also suitable for flooring, plywood, and constructional work." [1]



[1] Render, M. G. (2001). Goodbye to beech-farewell to fagus? Report of the Transnational Woodland Industries Group conference 23rd April 2001. Oxford Forestry Institute, University of Oxford.

Privacy Statement
Search the Library Website