Fagus asiatica H.J.P.Winkl.
Fagus ferruginea Siebold
Fagus japonica undulata (Blume) Koehne
Fagus sieboldii Endl. ex A.DC.
Fagus sylvatica sieboldii (Endl. ex A.DC.) Maxim.
Fagus winkleriana Koidz.
Common Name: Japanese Beech
Fagus crenata is a deciduous tree with a large, dense crown; it can grow up to 30 metres tall[
The tree is harvested from the wild as a food and source of materials. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental and shade tree.
The seeds of the various species of beech are generaly edible and wholesome. However, they do contain a saponic glycoside and, if eaten in quantity (especially if eaten raw), they can cause stomach upsets[
E. Asia - Japan
Forests all over Japan.
|Other Uses Rating
Fagus crenata is a very cold-hardy tree, tolerating temperatures down to around -30°c when dormant. It grows best in areas with hot summers. In areas with cooler summers (even if the winters are mild), such as the maritime regions of the temperate zone, it often grows poorly, failing to properly ripen its wood and suffering frost damage over the winter[
Grows best in a sunny position, though young trees are also very shade tolerant, surviving in deep woodland shade for several years and then able to grow fairly rapidly if an opening occurs. Thrives on a light or medium soil[
], doing well on chalk[
], but ill-adapted for heavy wet soils[
]. The new growth in spring, especially on young plants, is very subject to frost damage - growing small plants in the dappled shade of a woodland is usually sufficient to protect them[
Large yields of seed are not obtainable annually but rather in 5 - 10 -year cycles[
Trees have surface-feeding roots and also cast a dense shade. This greatly inhibits the growth of other plants and, especially where a number of the trees are growing together, the ground beneath them is often almost devoid of vegetation.
Young leaves - raw[
]. A very nice mild flavour but the leaves quickly become tough so only the youngest should be used. New growth is usually produced for 2 periods of 3 weeks each year, one in spring and one in mid-summer.
Edible seed - raw or cooked[
]. Rich in oil. The seed should not be eaten in large quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. It can be dried and ground into a powder.
An edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[
]. Beech nuts contain a considerable amount of valuable oil which is extracted by pressing. Apart from its applications for food, this oil is used as adulterant for walnut, poppy, or olive oil[
The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.
Beech trees generally have surface-feeding roots and also cast a dense shade - this greatly inhibits the growth of other plants and, especially where a number of the trees are growing together, the ground beneath them is often almost devoid of vegetation[
A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed by pressing. It can be used as a fuel for lighting, as a lubricant, for polishing wood etc[
The wood has a very high caloric value. On dry distillation it yields alcohol and creosote[
The heartwood is pale pink-brown in colour; it is not demarcated from the sapwood. The grain is straight, the texture fine and even. The wood is not very durable without treatment and tends to be attacked by the furniture beetle. It has medium density and bending strength; medium stiffness and resistance to shock loads; high crushing strength; high shear strength; steam bending classification is excellent. It tends to dry rapidly, tending to warp, check, split and shrink; when dry it is stable with small movment in service. It has medium resistance to cutting, with a moderate blunting effect and a tendency to burn during drilling. It has very good turning properties. Takes nails well, but requires pre-drilling; holds screws well; glues satisfactorily; stains and polishes to a good finish.
The wood is widely used for a variety of woodwork, such as bent (so-called Viennese) cabinet work, oars, shoe lasts, small articles for domestic use, spoons, trays, etc. It is also employed in boat construction (keels) and carriage construction (wheel spokes, etc.). Beech staves are made into containers for oil[
The wood is an excellent fuel, burning well and giving off a lot of heat. It makes a good charcoal.
Seed - the seed has a short viability and is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Protect the seed from mice. Germination takes place in the spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seedlings are slow growing for the first few years and are very susceptible to damage by late frosts.
The seed can also be sown in an outdoor seedbed in the autumn. The seedlings can be left in the open ground for three years before transplanting, but do best if put into their final positions as soon as possible and given some protection from spring frosts.