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TIMBERPÆDIA

 

Updated on 23 March, 2008

 
 

The Lisnavagh Timber Project

TIMBERPÆDIA

Beech

Latin Name: Irish Name: Native to Ireland?
Fagus sylvatica Fea No

About the Tree

Beech trees mature to a great size, 30-40m, with impressive spreading crowns, often branching almost horizontally. It has shiny grey bark, variegated with dark green and yellow mosses. Beech hedges are basically a series of beech trees that have been regularly pruned.

The beech is not indigenous to Ireland and probably arrived here with the Normans during their conquest of Ireland in the 13th century. Beech is native to most of the rest of Europe. The tree rarely lives more than 200 years. The timber is very popular with furniture manufacturers while an eccentric 18th century physician reckoned beech leaves made "much the best and easiest mattresses in the world."

The tree shades out almost all growth on the ground around it.

About the Wood

The wood is white/pale brown and hard but relatively easily worked. It is not very suitable for external use, but is used for furniture, bowls, spoons, tools, plywood, and veneers. Beech is excellent firewood and is also used to make charcoal.

A lot of furniture in Ireland is made from beech - mostly imported.

"Spalted beech" is sought after because of the patterns, colours and appearance. The spalting is caused by fungal decay, representing the early stages of the entirely natural process of "rotting" that occurs in timber. Whilst spalted wood can have soft areas, the ideal piece of spalted wood has been dried just before the wood has started to soften too much and the patterns caused by the fungal decay are at their peak. (Fungal decay stops when timber reaches 20% MC or less.) Spalting occurs in most hardwood timbers, but is most commonly found in beech.

 

 

Enjoy Wood

 



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