Pages

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tree of the Month - The Beech Tree






Beech (Fagus) is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe and North America.

The beech most commonly grown as an ornamental tree is the European Beech (Fagus sylvatica), widely cultivated in North America as well as its native Europe.The European species, Fagus sylvatica, yields a utility timber that is tough but dimensionally unstable.
The Dwarf Beech, Fagus sylvatica Tortuosa Group, is a rare Cultivar Group of the European Beech with less than 1500 older specimens in Europe. It is also known as Twisted Beech or Parasol Beech.

The name Beech is in early English boc, bece, or beoce; in German Buche, and in Swedish bok, and signifies either a book or the tree, the two senses being supposed to be connected by the fact that the ancient Runic writings were engraved upon beechen boards.The Beech nuts were food for prehistoric man and are still consumed today. Historians claim that the first written European literature was inscribed on Beech bark in Sanskrit. The English word 'book" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "boc", a derivative for the Anglo-Saxon "beece" or Beech.The annual growth of bark strives to hide the wound of the knife, and ultimately the inscribed name will become buried in the heart of the old tree, to remain ages after that of the lover shall have ceased to beat.

Beech wood is an excellent firewood, easily split and burning for many hours with bright but calm flames. Chips of beech wood are used in the brewing of Budweiser beer as a fining agent. Beech logs are burned to dry the malts used in some German smoked beers, to give the beers their typical flavor.The fruit of the beech, also called "Beechnuts", are found in the small burrs that drop from tree in Autumn. They are small and triangular, are edible, have a sweet taste and are highly nutritious. However, they do contain organic substances which are slightly toxic so that they should not be eaten in larger quantities. The oil pressed from them does not have this effect any more. It was in common use in Europe in times of abundant labor but scarce food sources, such as in Germany in the years immediately after World War II; people would go into the woods and collect beechnuts, then swap them for oil at small private or community-owned oil mills; the mill would keep and sell a certain percentage to cover its operating costs.It is nutritious and rich
in oil and attractive to birds and small mammals including deer and badger. The oil can be extracted and used for culinary purposes.Good for firewood and production of charcoal. It is used for furniture and many other uses such as bowls, spoons, tools, and veneers. Varieties of this tree, also used as ornamentals, include the Copper Beech, Weeping Beech, and Weeping Purple Beech. European Beech is a very popular ornamental tree in parks and large gardens.


But it is in autumn, however, that the beauty of the Beech stands pre-eminent. As it is said,
"The autumnal splendor of every other tree fades before that of the Beech, which continues the longest of all, and under particular circumstances is of the most brilliant description. This arises from its lucid leaves, which vary in hue from auburn to gold color and umber, reflecting back the level rays of the descending sun, and thus burning with pre-eminent luster, like a sudden illumination. Blazing characters irradiate the grove wherever the Beech presents, in spectral pomp, its vivid outline; and if a passing rain-cloud, shrouding for a moment the tree-tops, bear upon its purple breast the glowing Iris, with one limb intermingled with the golden foliage, the splendid effect will long rest upon the memory of the spectator."


The wood of the European Beech is used in the manufacture of numerous objects and implements. Its fine and short grain makes it an easy wood to work with, easy to soak, dye (except its heartwood), varnish and glue. Steaming makes the wood even easier to machine. It has an excellent finish and is resistant to compression and splitting. Milling is sometimes difficult due to cracking and it is stiff when flexed. It is particularly well suited for minor carpentry, particularly furniture. From chairs to parquetry (flooring) and staircases, the European Beech can do almost anything other than heavy structural support, so long as it is not left outdoors. Its hardness make it ideal for making wooden mallets and workbench tops. The wood of the European Beech rots easily if it is not protected by a tar based on a distillate of its own bark (as used in railway sleepers). It is better for paper pulp than many other broadleaved trees though is only sometimes used for this. Common beech is also considered on of the best fuels for fireplaces.


References:
Beech Trees, or "Beechnut Trees" for Fall Foliage
Beech Tree wikkipedia
Beech Tree
European beech
European beech 2

Image credits::
Fall leaves

Dwarf image

Dwarf image 2
Beech image
image beech

Similar article::
Beech - A tree for practical knowledge.

No comments:

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

The Earth's Echo's Fan Box

Followers