Na­tive Bri­tain

Plants, flow­ers and fungi of Great Bri­tain at a glance

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Latin name: Fa­gus syl­vat­ica Com­mon name: Beech

Other names: Euro­pean beech How to spot it and where to find it: The stately beech can grow to 40m tall with a mag­nif­i­cent domed crown. It likes free-drain­ing soils such as chalk or lime­stone and is found mostly in south­ern England and south Wales. Its bark is thin, smooth and grey, and its leaves have wavy edges. Young leaves are lime green and cov­ered with fine silky hairs, which they lose as they ma­ture. The tree pro­duces male catkins and fe­male flow­ers, which form into prickly husks. As they ripen, they split to re­lease the shiny brown nuts.

In­ter­est­ing facts: The amount of beech­mast — or beech nuts — pro­duced varies con­sid­er­ably; sea­sons when they are plen­ti­ful are known as Mast Years. Beech wood­land is vi­tal habi­tat for many but­ter­flies, and the fo­liage is eaten by cater­pil­lars of sev­eral moths, in­clud­ing the barred hook-tip, clay triple-lines and olive cres­cent. Seeds are eaten by mice, voles, squir­rels and birds. The wood burns well and was tra­di­tion­ally used to smoke her­ring, and the edi­ble masts were once used to feed pigs. The beech was thought to have medic­i­nal qual­i­ties — the leaves were used to re­duce swellings and boiled to make a poul­tice.

The beech is as­so­ci­ated with fem­i­nin­ity and is of­ten con­sid­ered the queen of trees

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.