Beech tree in centre
|Species:|| Fagus crenata - Japanese beech
Fagus engleriana – Chinese beech
Fagus grandifolia – American beech
Fagus hayatae – Taiwan beech
Fagus japonica – Japanese blue beech
Fagus longipetiolata – South Chinese beech
Fagus lucida – shining beech
Fagus mexicana – Mexican beech or haya
Fagus moesiaca – Balcan beech
Fagus orientalis – Oriental beech
Fagus sylvatica – European beech
Fagus taurica – Crimean beech
Beech (Fagus) is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America. Recent classification systems of the genus recognize ten to thirteen species in two distinct subgenera, Engleriana and Fagus. The Engleriana subgenus is found only in East Asia, and is notably distinct from the Fagus subgenus in that these beeches are low-branching trees, often made up of several major trunks with yellowish bark. Further differentiating characteristics include the whitish bloom on the underside of the leaves, the visible tertiary leaf veins, and a long, smooth cupule-peduncle. Fagus japonica, Fagus engleriana, and the species F. okamotoi, proposed by the bontanist Chung-Fu Shen in 1992, comprise this subgenus.
Beech grows on a wide range of soil types, acidic or basic, provided they are not waterlogged. The tree canopy casts dense shade, and carpets the ground thickly with leaf litter.
In North America, they often form beech-maple climax forests by partnering with the sugar maple.
The beech blight aphid (Grylloprociphilus imbricator) is a common pest of American beech trees. Beeches are also used as food plants by some species of Lepidoptera (see list of Lepidoptera that feed on beeches).
Beech bark is extremely thin and scars easily. Since the beech tree has such delicate bark, carvings, such as lovers' initials and other forms of graffiti, remain because the tree is unable to heal itself. Beech bark disease is a fungal infection that attacks the American beech through damage caused by scale insects. Infection can lead to the death of the tree.
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