Beech

The beech is tree with a smooth trunk that can reach a height of over forty meters and four hundred years old.

Do not confuse with:
Common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

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recognize tree: beech
Beech, photo: Alex Hoekerd - CC0 Public Domain
  • Beech nuts contain toxins for horses; the leaves contain fewer toxins.

Beech (Fagus), smooth-trunked tree that can grow over forty feet in height and reach an age of four hundred years.
Beech trees are planted as trees and in hedges.
Not much wants to grow under beech trees: under the dense crown it is too dark for shrubs, and herbs stay away from the tannin-rich litter of fallen beech leaves.
In winter, the dead leaves remain on the tree and hedge until spring.
Beech likes a moist, well-drained soil, preferably containing lime, loam or marl. Beech can withstand temporary high water levels and summer drought well. Beech trees are susceptible to sunburn; of a solitary tree, the trunk is often wrapped in burlap to protect the bark from the sun. Beech lives in symbiosis with a fungus.
Beech tolerates pruning very well, which is why it is often used in hedges. When pruning trees, it is important that when pruning branches, the trunk and main branches cannot be exposed to direct sunlight to prevent burning of the thin bark (sunburn).

Bugs

Beech aphids on leaf, photo: Drahkrub – CC BY-SA 3.0

Light green aphids with a woolly wax layer on the underside of the leaf: woolly beech aphid (Phyllaphis fagi). This aphid secretes honeydew on which sooty mold forms.

Woolly beech scale on trunk of beech tree, photo: Gerhard Elsner – CC BY-SA 3.0

Large numbers of yellow scale insects with a woolly wax layer on the trunk, in a strong infestation the trunk looks white with wax: woolly beech scale (Cryptococcus fagisuga).

Infestation of the leaf by the beech leaf-miner beetle, photo: Wladmeister – CC BY-SA 2.0de

In spring, young beech leaves are eaten; in early summer, leaves turn brown – looks like night frost: beech leaf-miner beetle (Orchestes fagi).

Gall from beech gall midge on leaf, photo: Marco Walker – CC BY 2.5

Galls on the beech leaf: beech gall midge (Mikiola fagi).

Cockchafer, photo: Marcus Mitschack – CC0 Public Domain

Leaf is eaten by 3 cm brown beetles: cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha). A swarm of cockchafers can eat a beech tree completely bare.

Slug-like caterpillars, larvae of the oak slugworm eats mesophyll from leaves, photo: Rasbak – CC BY-SA 3.0
Larvae of the oak slugworm on an oak leaf, photo: Rasbak – CC BY-SA 3.0

About 1 cm small, dark-tinged, slimy snails eat the mesophyll between the veins of the leaves. This causes the remaining mesophyll to turn brown and the leaves may drop: slug-like caterpillars (larvae of the oak slugworm – Caliroa annulipes).

Fungi & diseases

Coral spot on branch, photo: Pethan – CC BY-SA 3.0

Small, orange-red globules appear on affected branches, which can be either dead or living branches: Coral spot (Nectria cinnabarina).

Apple canker, photo: MarkusHagenlocher – CC BY-SA 3.0

Wild growth and cancers on the trunk: Apple canker (Neonectria ditissima).

Top view of older giant polypore, photo: Henk Monster – CC BY-SA 3.0

Between 50 and 200 cm tall fungi with several flat, semicircular caps at the base of the tree. Initially light brown; later darker in color (reddish brown): giant polypore (Meripilus giganteus).

Other

Bark shows longitudinal cracks: sunburn.

Leaf discolors to bronze under the influence of sunlight
Discoloration of beech leaves by the sun, photo: PlantEnPlagen

Leaf locally discolors to bronze or light brown: sunburn. This is especially common in the summer when the beech or beech hedge has just been pruned. The leaves protected by other foliage until before pruning are in full sun after pruning; burning is the result.

Recognize nodules on the trunk
Bark lumps, photo: Sjoerd van der Schuit

Lumps form on the trunk: bark nodules.

wrinkles in the trunk
Thickening, wrinkles around the stem, photo: Katja Brouwers

Wrinkles on the stem: fiber kinks. These are caused by uneven loading of the trunk (storm): the wood fibers are pressed together, creating a thickening. Occurs in more trees.

Recognize lichen on beech
Parmelia, a lichen on the branches of a beech tree, photo: PlantEnPlagen

Lichen on the branches.

recognize foam on trunk of trees
Foam on the trunk, photo: Monique Beers

In early spring, foam appears at the base of the trunk: tree foam.