Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
The majestic Common Beech, Fagus sylvatica, has been here since before we were an island - beech pollen in Hampshire has been dated back to 6000 BC. It is an antisocial tree, growing best among its own - stands of hilltop beech or "hangars" are one of the most beautiful landscape features of Southern chalk downlands; Gilbert White called them "the most lovely of all forest trees". It is adaptable, growing in most well drained soils and tolerant of shade, but unlike the visually similar Hornbeam doesn't like the wet. Its dense shade means that over time Beech can dominate mixed woodland.
Beech wood has been coppiced and pollarded since the Iron Ages (at least!) for fuel wood; seasoned wood will make for a lovely bright fire. In the 18th century tall straight limbed beech trees were grown for Windsor chair legs.
Beech mast - produced irregularly - is a tremendous boon for all sorts of wildlife, and the nuts used to be pressed into oil or toasted and eaten. Beech leaves were both used for mattresses and mixed with gin to make an alcoholic drink, beech-leaf noyau, and apparently you can add them when young to a salad (who knew?).
According to folklore it is a benevolent tree; the lost traveller seeking shelter beneath its boughs will be safe. We include Beech in our mixed native woodland collections.
Fagus sylvatica is one of the most helpful hedge plants there is. If you clip your Beech hedge it will hold its leaves in winter (see photo), which is perfect for a privacy hedge or for a hedge to muffle traffic noise. This is an odd feature it shares with hornbeam called marcescence; in the spring the old leaves are eventually dislodged by new ones. It also means Beech hedges provide helpful shelter for birds, even in winter months. It is best grown as a hedge in a staggered row, with 4 or 5 plants per metre.
Plants For Sale
Smaller Sizes Supplier: Perrie Hale Forest Nursery, British Hardwood Tree Nursery
Larger Sizes Supplier : R.V.Roger
Your purchase helps us support a range of charities, which are related to the products we sell.
See our planting and size guide for details and tips on planting. These Beech trees are all bare root, and are consequently available for delivery from November until March (please ask if you are interested in pot grown plants). During the lifting season there may be up to two week's delay between placing the order and dispatching, due to weather conditions or pressure of orders, which are dealt with in date sequence. Orders placed for Beech between March and October are confirmed for dispatch from November.
Time to Ultimate Height
Over 20 years
Clay, loam, sand, chalk
Neutral, acid, alkaline
Sheltered or exposed
Full or partial sun