843 Fagus orientalisCommon Names: oriental beech Family: Fagaceae (beech Family)
Oriental beech is a large imposing tree that can grow to 100 ft (30.1 m) in height. It has smooth pale gray bark and obovate leaves (widest near their tips) that are 5-7 in (12.7-17.8 cm) long and that turn rich golden yellow or yellowish brown in fall. It produces a spreading, rounded crown of shiny dark green foliage. Oriental beech is quite similar to American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and European beech (F. sylvatica), but those species have smaller, elliptic leaves that turn reddish in fall. Beechnuts are enclosed in shaggy capsules about 1 in (2.5 cm) across that split open in fall to release the oily kernels.
Oriental beech, Fagus orientalis, is native to eastern Europe and Asia Minor. It tends to inhabit the lower elevations and lets European beech take the high ground. Oriental beech once covered vast areas of Greece, Turkey and northern Iran, but has been cut out over much of its former range.
CultureOriental beech is tolerant of most soil types, including limey calcareous soils. It is more tolerant of calcareous soils than its American cousin. Light: The beeches are tolerant of heavy shade while young, but need partial sun to realize their full potentials as the fine trees they can be. Moisture: The beeches need a well-drained soil and regular watering. Large trees can tolerate the occasional drought. Beeches need more water where summer temperatures are high. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 7. Propagation: Oriental beech may be propagated from fresh seed sown in autumn and allowed to overwinter outdoors. They produce a long taproot and are difficult to transplant, so set seedlings out as soon as possible after germination. It is very difficult to start beech trees from cuttings.
Like its more commonly encountered cousins, American beech and European beech, the oriental beech is a fine shade tree for parks, estates and large lawns. Its stately habit and autumn color are much valued. The beeches are long-lived trees with few environmental problems.
The wood from beech trees is close grained and hard, and valued for flooring, furniture and construction. Beechnuts are a major source of food for wildlife.
There are 10 species of beeches occurring in temperate regions of Europe, Asia and North America. Oriental beech is uncommon in cultivation, but its close relative, European beech, is widely grown as a specimen and shade tree.
Steve Christman 11/3/00; updated 2/17/04