European beech

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European beech Fagus sylvatica


A large, deciduous tree, Fagus sylvatica, native to northern Europe. Beech trees have a smooth gray bark and a hard, heavy wood. European beech trees are often grown in large hedgerows. The reddish-brown, close-grain beechwood bends well and gives a smooth shiny finish. Beech is a commonly used timber for flooring, cabinetry, furniture, veneer, tool handles, and turnery. It was occasionally used in panel paintings in western Europe.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Fagus sylvatica; Almindelig Bøg (Dan.); Rotbuche (Deut.); haya (Esp.); hêtre (Fr.); beuk (Ned.); Buk zwyczajny (Pol.); Bok (Sven.); faia (Port.); faggio (It.); beechwood; common beech

European beech Fagus sylvatica
Beech (Fagus sylvatica)


Skin contact and dust inhalation may cause irritation and allergies. Highly acidic. May evolve volatile organic acids.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Large trees growing to 35 m. Bark=smooth, gray. Leaves=simple with veins and toothed edges. Fruit=Large husk containing 2 shiny brown edible nuts.

Wood is acidic. Color: Pinkish brown with dark brown rays. Rings: obscure. Pores: diffuse, fine. Grain: faint. Rays: distinct. Hard, strong and heavy. Specific gravity = 0.7-0.9. Density = 45-55 ppcf

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Alden Identification Services, Microscopic Wood Identification: Link
  • Virginia Tech Dendrology website at (accessed Oct. 8, 2005)
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 93
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Caring for your Collections, Arthur W Schulz (ed.), Harry N. Abrams, Inc. , New York, 1992
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • George Savage, Art and Antique Restorer's Handbook, Rockliff Publishing Corp, London, 1954
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002

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