Commercial Timbers


H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Fagus sylvatica L. (Buche, beech, haya)

Nomenclature etc. FAGACEAE. Trade and local names: Buche, Rotbuche, Gemeine Buche (DE), beech (US, GB), hêtre, fayard (FR), faggio (IT), beuken (NL), haya (ES), kaym (TR), rödbok (SE), buk (CZ, PL, RO), bökk (HU). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: Europe, excl. Mediterranean, Mediterranean incl. N. Africa and Middle East, temperate Asia, and North America.

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct. Growth ring limits demarcated by dark coloured latewood = zones of lower vessel frequency and thicker-walled fibres. Heartwood basically white or grey to yellow white or grey to brown. Sapwood colour similar to heartwood colour. Density 0.49–0.68–0.88 g/cm³. Often with discoloured heartwood; rays macroscopically visible as dark spindles (tangentially) or bands (radially) several mm in height; large rays wider than largest pores (transverse section) and noded at the growth ring boundary.

Vessels. Wood semi-ring-porous to diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows and in clusters. Vessel outline angular. Average tangential vessel diameter 45–60–80 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 80–125–160. Perforation plates simple and scalariform, with 8–20 bars. Scalariform perforations limited to latewood, few. Intervessel pits opposite or scalariform (rare), average diameter (vertical) 5–7 µm. Vessel-ray pits with reduced borders or apparently simple, horizontal to vertical. Helical thickenings absent. Tyloses in vessels present (only in discoloured heartwood), thinwalled. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (only in discoloured heartwood).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 540–720–910 µm. Fibre pits common in both radial and tangential walls, distinctly bordered.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma present. Axial parenchyma apotracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse and diffuse-in-aggregates. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 4–8.

Rays. Rays 2–5 per tangential mm (applies to large rays only, small rays much more frequent), multiseriate (also if only few), 2–15–25 cells wide. Rays of two distinct sizes. Height of large rays commonly over 1000 µm. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent. Sheath cells absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals not observed. Silica not observed.

Illustrations. • Macro images. Fagus sylvatica. Transverse. Tangential. • Transverse section. Fagus sylvatica. • Tangential section. Fagus sylvatica. • Radial section. Fagus sylvatica. Inset: Scalariform perforation plates occurring mainly in smaller latewood vessels.

The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009.’.