Beech wood is a kind of light hardwood that comes from the beech tree species. The wood is excellent for a multitude of uses including furniture making, hardwood flooring, toys, sports equipment, containers, etc.
Beech trees are deciduous plants that are part of the Fagaceae family. They consist of some interesting and unique features that make them comparatively unique from other deciduous trees. Beech trees are also believed to be one of the most majestic and remarkable varieties of trees to have in a beautiful landscape.
Beech trees are native to regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are typically round-headed, tall and wide-spreading with a thin bark that is super smooth and has a steel-gray color. Interestingly, these trees are really slow-growing but can live up to 400 years or perhaps even more.
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How to Identify a Beech Tree?
Beech trees have some very prominent and distinctive features, making them easily recognizable. One of the main features is the smooth, gray bark which stays for as long as the tree is standing and alive. In shady conditions, beech trees consist of a straight and massive trunk that reaches a height of over 80 feet. The crown is small but really dense.
The leaves of beach trees are typically 2.5 inches wide and 6 inches long, and they contain a lot of side veins. The flowers are usually small, round and yellow male flowers coupled with tiny red female flowers, especially in early spring. The female flowers produce edible nuts which are enjoyed by the wildlife that is present in its vicinity
Uses of Beech Wood
Beech wood, in general, is an excellent form of firewood considering how easily it splits and can burn for hours with calm, bright flames.
Because of its medium to high levels of sturdiness, beech wood is often a popular choice among craftsmen and furniture-makers because it results in gorgeous furniture products with a light-woody color that easily fits into any color scheme.
One of the biggest qualities of beech wood is that it is ‘odorless’ which makes it an excellent choice for bedroom furniture especially if you hate the smell of wood.
A very fascinating use of beechwood was observed back in ancient times where Indo-European people used the barks of beech trees for religious writing-related purposes. Beechwood tablets were popularly used in Germanic societies as a form of writing material prior to the development of paper.
Types of Beech Wood
1. European Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus sylvatica
Another name for the European beech is “common beech” and for all the right reasons, too. It is one of the most common beech species that you are likely to see almost anywhere in the world. It naturally grows in Denmark, Sweden, and southern Norway and the wood of this tree is believed to be the most useful of all beech timbers.
This species of beech typically reaches around 80-130 feet in height and 3-5 feet in diameter. These trees have an average lifespan of 200 years and take about 30 years to reach full maturity.
European beechwood has been quite a staple in the lumber industry in the European market and is commonly used in a variety of products like furniture, stairs, flooring, cabinetry, veneer, interior furnishings, etc. This hardwood is commonly described as “versatile” owing to the fact that its lumber has a variety of uses. It also works very smoothly and is able to glue and finish really well.
In terms of color, the European beech has dark specks and sports a pale cream color overall, while the lumber may result in brownish-red hues in the wood.
2. American Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus grandifolia
The American Beech is the only species of beech tree that is native to North America and is also one of the most widely known species, other than European beech. Some other common names of the tree include white beech, North American Beech, Red beech, ridge beech, and Carolina beech.
American beech trees typically grow to a height of 75 feet but may even reach 120 feet in dense forest conditions. They can live up to 400 years and can grow in a range of defferent types of soil, but they generally prefer moist soil.
The wood of the American beech tree tends to be slightly darker in color and is less consistent compared to the European beech. The heartwood of this tree sports a light to dark reddish brown color while the sapwood is all white with a tinge of red. The wood overall is close-grained with a uniform texture and contains medium crushing and bending strength.
3. Copper Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus sylvatica purpurea
This is a more visually appealing variety of the beech species with dark burgundy or flossy purple foliage instead of glossy green leaves. An interesting fact about the copper beech is that it appeared as a natural mutation of the European beech in different parts of Europe, initially in the 15th century.
This tree grows to an average height of more than 40cm and has a thin, grey bark which may have slight horizontal etchings sometimes.
Copper beech timber is used for multiple purposes like sports equipment, furniture, fuel, cooking utensils, and tool handles. The wood was traditionally used for smoke herring purposes because it burns really well. The bark of this type is fairly smooth with a light-gray color that often sports a wrinkled appearance.
4. Japanese Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus crenata
This type of beechwood is generally found throughout the forests of Japan, as the name aptly suggests. The tree reaches an average height of 35 meters which means 115 feet. It has a rounded crown with smooth, grey bark. The leaves of this type are simply arranged along the branch with wind-pollinated flowers.
The wood from the Japanese beech can be easily steamed and bent, making it super easy to use in curved parts of chairs, tables, and other furniture. It is also excellent for flooring purposes and a variety of other things like tool handles and bowls. The timber is often used for firewood, due to its great flammable characteristics.
5. Tri-Color Beech
The Tri-Color Beech is a cultivar of the European beech and is also native to Europe. It’s a color accent tree with white, green and pink variegated foliage and requires rich soil as well as an abundance of moisture to grow and spread.
This tree grows to an average height of 30 feet with a spread of 20 feet. While it grows at a very slow pace, if given the ideal growing conditions, it can grow up to 120 years or even more than that.
This tree is more popularly used for its point of attraction, owing to its unique-colored leaves that are basically purple with a variety of pale rose color. So, from afar, the color appears to be a purplish-pink color and looks absolutely breathtaking. The wood of the tri-color beach is often used for certain furnishing items and household wooden items but it may be more commonly used for wood-burning purposes.
6. Weeping Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus sylvatica Pendula
This tree is a cultivar of the European Beech and is primarily characterized by branches that are pendulous and sweeping. The tree reaches an average height of 25 meters which makes about 82 feet and has ‘weeping’ branches that cover most of the trunk.
This variety of beech was first developed in England in 1836 and was then further introduced to the States in 1847.
The bark of the Weeping beech is generally super smooth in texture and sports a dark grayish-silver color. The bark makes these trees a popular option for graffiti in forests.
This varioation of beech is commonly used in furniture making, and often even for railway lines considering its hardness and load-bearing capacities.
7. Fern-Leaf Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus sylvatica Asplenifolia
This is a medium-sized tree which is an excellent choice for a feature tree or parkland. It has long, narrow foliage that is soft and fern-like, as the name suggests. The bark of the tree is silky smooth and grey, yet very different from its other variations.
The Fern-Leaf beech grows to an average height of 50-80 feet and a width of 40-45 feet. The most notable and appealing characteristic of this tree is its long, dark green, deeply serrated leaves that helped give the tree the title of a “majestic tree”. The glossy green leaves turn into a shimmering bronze in the autumn season.
The wood of this incredible tree is often used as firewood while some people only use it as a display in their gardens and parks.
8. Oriental Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus orientalis
This is a deciduous tree of the Fagaceae family and is native to Western Asia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe.
It is known to be a fairly large tree that can go up to an average height of 148 feet, which is 45 m and 9.8 feet in trunk diameter. It has very simple leaves as well as long and slender buds.
The wood of the Oriental beech is very strong, heavy, hard and highly resistant to shock. These are some essential features and qualities that make this wood extremely suitable for steam bending. This wood is also significantly used for other purposes like fuelwood, furniture, railway tiles, paper, veneer flooring, and construction boards.
9. Japanese Blue Beech
Scientific Name: Fagus japonica
The Japanese Blue Beech is native to Japan, and some of its main tree species are found in natural deciduous forests on the Pacific side of the country. It grows to an average height of 25 meters and has simple leaves that are slightly pubescent from beneath.
Like many other types of beech trees, the bark of the Japanese blue beech is also very smooth and grey, and it is often multi-trunked in terms of the growth pattern.
The Japanese blue beech wood has excellent burning properties which is why it is one of the best options for firewood. Other than this, the wood also has great bending and curving qualities which makes it an ideal choice for furniture items and numerous other wooden products like bowls, etc.
Beech tree, due to its unique characteristics is a great option for furniture and firewood. It has other applications as well as mentioned above, but due to its color, it is obvious why people would use this type of wood for furniture. Now that you know all about the different types of beechwood, you can go out and buy the one that suits your needs and use it around your house.