Beech Fagus sylvaticus

Scientific Name: Fagus sylvatica (Fagaceae).

English Name: Beech (Beech family).

French Name: Hêtre.

5 Key Characters:
  • large deciduous tree (30 m + high).
  • smooth grey bark.
  • red-brown cigar shaped buds.
  • oval barely toothed leaves 4 - 9 cm long, coming to a point, on stalks, with obvious veins at the edges.
  • edges and veins underneath leaves with soft fine hairs. 

Lookalikes: Young leaves easy to mistake for Hornbeam Carpinus betulinus, but Hornbeam has jaggedly serrated leaves. Hornbeam has winged tassle like seed capsules, Beech has nuts enclosed in a scaly woody cup. Hornbeam is considerably more abundant in this area.

Habitat: Damp chalk, limestone, sandy or loamy woodlands.

Flowering Period: April-May (seed September-October).

Status: Uncommon and localised. Some parcels of mixed Beech and Sessile Oak Quercus petraea can be found around the Pas aux ânes and Carrefour du Conservateur in the Forest of Loches. The odd isolated mature tree in Downy Oak Q. pubescens woodland near Panzoult. Sometimes planted as a specimen tree in chateaux parks, but essentially the climate in the Touraine Loire Valley is slightly too hot and dry for Beech to thrive. Although widespread throughout France, there is a striking lacuna in the national distribution map, for the départements of Indre et Loire and Loir et Cher (and on the Mediterranean plain), where the species is rarely recorded.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

Mixed Beech and Sessile Oak woodland in the Forest of Loches.

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