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Beech (Family Fagaceae)

 

The Family Fagaceae, or beech family, comprises about 900 species

of both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. The Fagaceae are

widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. Genus-level di-

versity is concentrated in Southeast Asia, where most of the extant

genera are thought to have evolved before migrating to Europe and

North America (via the Bering Land Bridge). Members of the Fagac-

eae (such as Fagus grandifolia, Castanea dentata and Quercus alba

in the Northeastern United States, or Fagus sylvatica, Quercus robur

and Quercus petraea in Europe) are often ecologically dominant in

Northern temperate forests.

 

Several members of the Fagaceae have important economic uses.

Many species of oak, chestnut, and beech (genera Quercus, Castanea,

and Fagus respectively) are commonly used as timber for floors, fur-

niture, cabinets, and wine barrels. Cork for stopping wine bottles and

a myriad of other uses is made from the bark of cork oak, Quercus

suber. Chestnuts, a tasty treat enjoyed by many in the winter, are the

fruits from species of the genus Castanea. Numerous species from

several genera are prominent ornamentals, and wood chips from the

Genus Fagus are often used in flavoring beers.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Tree Families and Species

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