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Fagus sylvatica – Wikipedia

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**Description and Distribution**:
– Fagus sylvatica is a large tree, reaching heights of up to 50 meters and 3 meters in trunk diameter.
– Lifespan of 300 years, with some trees living over 500 years.
– Cultivated trees harvested at 80-120 years old.
– Leaves are alternate, simple, 5-10 cm long, with 6-7 veins on each side.
– Male flowers in catkins, producing beechnuts maturing in autumn.
– Most abundant hardwood species in Austrian, German, and Swiss forests.
– Native range from Sweden to France, Spain, and northwest Turkey.
– Hybridization with oriental beech in the Balkans.
– Grows in mountain forests at 600-1800 meters altitude in the Mediterranean region.
– Introduced to England around 4000 BC by Stone Age humans.

**Taxonomy and Synonyms**:
– Fagus sylvatica has numerous synonyms including Fagus purpurea and Fagus orientalis.
– Varieties include Fagus sylvatica var. albovariegata and Fagus sylvatica var. purpurea.
– Different forms like Fagus sylvatica f. fastigiata and Fagus sylvatica f. retroflexa.
– Hybrid trees named Fagus taurica in the Balkans.
– Taxonomic debates exist about the nature of Norwegian beech populations.

**Cultural Significance and Ecological Role**:
Beech wood is used for furniture, flooring, and musical instruments.
– Important tree in European folklore and mythology, symbolizing wisdom, prosperity, and longevity.
Beech forests provide habitat for diverse plant and animal species and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in some regions.
Beech forests contribute to biodiversity, ecosystem stability, soil conservation, and preventing erosion.
Beech trees provide shelter and food for various wildlife species and influence microclimate and water cycling in forest ecosystems.

**Diseases, Pathogens, and Cultivation**:
– European beech is prone to false heartwood due to various stressors and sensitive to drought.
– Biscogniauxia nummularia causes strip-canker and wood rot in beech trees.
– European beech is popular in parks and gardens worldwide, used for hedges, ornamental purposes, and various cultivars have been developed.

**Uses, Timber, and Miscellaneous**:
Beech nuts are consumed by both humans and animals, used for oil extraction and smoke flavoring.
– European beech wood is versatile, used for furniture, flooring, and carpentry.
Beech wood is resistant to compression but prone to cracking, suitable for making mallets and workbench tops.
– Not ideal for heavy structural support or outdoor use.
– Additional details include specific locations like the Sonian Forest in Brussels and Longwood Mall in Massachusetts, and the historical uses and characteristics of European beech.

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