Crooked Run Valley
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.