Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Beech, the English name of Fagus sylvatica, a large and handsome tree belonging to the order Cupuliferae (Quercineae). It reaches a height of 60 or 70 feet and a diameter of 3, 4, or even 5 feet. Its bark is thin, smooth, and silvery; its buds brown and pointed; its leaves hairy and pointed only when young; and its fruit consists of three-cornered nuts produced in pairs in a rigid brown husk which bears recurved hooks externally and splits into four valves. The wood is excellent for fuel and charcoal, and is used for tool-handles, and, more especially, for chair-making. From 12,000 to 15,000 loads of beech timber are annually employed for this last purpose round High Wycombe, Bucks, where it is grown on the chalk of the Chiltern Hills. The nuts yield a useful oil and are still valued in northern Europe as food for swine. The Copper Beech is a variety, merely differing in the colour of its leaves; but the genus is very widely distributed, being represented in New Zealand, Tasmania, and Antarctic America, as well as throughout the northern hemisphere.