The Lisnavagh Timber Project
||Native to Ireland?
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 -
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.