Fagus sylvatica

Family: Fagaceae

Countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Corsica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Wales, Yugoslavia

Fagus sylvatica is the botanical name for Beech trees.  Beech are one of our UK native trees; they can be found across Europe.  Fagus sylvatica forms majestic trees that can be used as hedging or as very handsome specimen trees.  Although these trees are deciduous, trimmed Fagus sylvatica specimens will retain their leaves throughout the autumn and winter months.  However, any hedges or trees that are left untrimmed will drop their leaves the same autumn.  Also dropped in autumn, Fagus sylvatica produces tufted bristly, pyramid-shaped Beech nuts, which are often called ‘masts’.  Beech nuts are edible; as a child I used to adore unwrapping the small, waxed brown-paper-like fruit and removing them from their casings and eating them!  Squirrels, badgers, and other wildlife feast on Beech nuts and caterpillars eat Fagus sylvatica leaves, making this an important tree for nature.

Choose a sheltered spot to grow Fagus sylvatica.  Why not try growing your own tree from seed?  Fagus sylvatica thrive in sunny and partially shaded areas.  These trees will happily grow on any moist but well-drained soil, including acid, alkaline, and neutral soils.  Fagus sylvatica thrives on loam, and sandy, silty, well-drained soils, including chalky soils.  if you’re considering planting a tree or hedgerow, but your soil is heavier and wetter, or if you have the opposite problem and your soil is very dry, opt instead for Hornbean (Carpinus betulus).

Fagus sylvatica can form huge trees that reach up to 45m (147ft) tall and stretch over 8m (25ft) wide, but don’t let this put you off – plants can easily be contained at much smaller sizes with regular pruning.  If you’re growing Fagus sylvatica as trees, very little (if any) pruning will be needed to keep your tree looking good.  Fagus sylvatica hedges should be pruned once a year in August – please check for nesting birds before you start pruning and leave your hedge or tree alone if nesting birds are present.  If you’re growing Fagus sylvatica as a hedge, please ensure the lowest leaves of your hedge reach right down to the ground, so you can be certain that your hedge offers the most benefits for hedgehogs and wildlife.  Thank you!

If you’re wondering what to do with your autumn leaves, I’ve written an article with lots of tips and ideas to help you.
For more information about planting trees, please click here.

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