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The most common deciduous tree in our forests is the common beech. The deciduous tree does not bear its name because of its leaves, but because of the slightly reddish wood. Beech trees are planted in forests, parks and gardens as single trees and beech hedges.

A red beech can grow over 40 meters high

The red beech - a profile!

  • Latin name: Fagus sylvatica
  • Common name: beech
  • Plant Family: Beech Family
  • Species: about 250
  • Occurrence: Europe
  • Tree species: deciduous tree
  • Age: up to 300 years, average age 150 years
  • Height: up to 40 meters, occasionally higher
  • Bark: silver-grey, smooth, often pitted
  • Root: wide spreading shallow root
  • Leaves: green or red (copper beech)
  • Leaf shape: ovate, wavy, only slightly serrate
  • Leaf size: 5 - 11 cm long, 3 - 8 cm wide
  • Flowers: inconspicuous, male flower with long stalks, female flower with a short stalk
  • Flowering time: April to May
  • Fruits: beechnuts, brown pericarp with 2 - 4 nuts
  • Fruit ripening: from September
  • Toxicity: Beechnuts contain oxalic acid and fagin
  • Usage: furniture making, firewood, single tree, hedge plant, bonsai

The use of red beech in timber construction

The copper beech has a very evenly grained wood with a light, slightly reddish tone. In a favorable location, beech trees form very thick trunks without branches.

The wood is very hard, but easy to work with. That is why red beech is very popular in furniture construction.

In addition, beech wood has a high calorific value. It is made into charcoal and used to smoke meat and fish. Beech wood is also very popular as firewood.

That is why beech trees are popular hedge plants

Beech trees are not only popular as individual trees in parks or along streets. Deciduous trees are also very popular as hedge plants because they grow very quickly.

A common beech increases in height and width by between 40 and 50 centimeters a year.

Although the beech is a deciduous tree, the foliage often hangs on the tree until spring. A red beech hedge therefore forms a good privacy screen in the garden even in winter.

Red beeches are slightly poisonous

The substances oxalic acid and fagin contained in the beech nuts have a slightly toxic effect. By heating, for example roasting, the toxins are broken down and beechnuts are tolerable for humans.

In times of hunger, beechnuts used to serve as a substitute for food.

Forest animals tolerate beechnuts well, while beechnuts can poison horses.

Difference between copper beech and hornbeam

The difference between copper beech and hornbeam is not obvious at first glance. The leaves of the copper beech are finer and don't feel as "old". They are not as heavily sawn as the leaves of the hornbeam.

Hornbeam wood is the hardest wood in Europe. In contrast to red beech wood, it is used for shipbuilding, wooden parquet and tool making.


It is often assumed that the words book or letter derive from the fact that the letters were once carved into solid beech wood. The origin of the word can probably be traced back to the Germanic word for rune sticks "boks".

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