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

Resources and Citations

  • 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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