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Sheep beech near Neu Dobbin, Mecklenburg's largest and oldest red beech [1]

Sheep beech near Neu Dobbin , Mecklenburg's largest and oldest red beech

Eurosiden I
Order : Beech-like (Fagales)
Family : Beech family (Fagaceae)
Subfamily : Fagoideae
Genre : Book
Scientific name of the  subfamily
K. Koch
Scientific name of the  genus

The beeches ( Fagus ) are the only genus of the subfamily of the Fagoideae within the beech family (Fagaceae). The eleven species are widely distributed in the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere in North America and Eurasia .


Branch with young leaves and inflorescences of the American beech ( Fagus grandifolia )

Vegetative characteristics

Beech species are deciduous trees that reach heights of up to 40 meters. Its bark is gray and smooth and rarely shows a small amount of bark formation in old age , which is why it belongs to the periderm tree . The twigs, which are thin and bent back and forth, have brown bark. The 1 to 3 centimeter long buds are long, spindle-shaped, often spreading, brown in color, covered with numerous bud scales and covered with silver hair.

The leaves are alternate, screwy on upright branches, on protruding branches they are more or less arranged in two rows. The leaves are divided into a petiole and a leaf blade. The leaf blade is shiny green, with entire margins, slightly dentate, wavy, or finely serrated. The stipules are narrow and deciduous.

Inflorescences and flowers

Beech species are single sexed ( monoecious ). The flowers are on young twigs and appear at the same time as the leaves. The male flowers are in dense, long-stalked, drooping clusters. The male single flower has a four- to seven-column inflorescence and eight to sixteen stamens . The pollen are more or less spherical, about 20 to 45 micrometers in size, and show three pore folds running from pole to pole. The female flowers stand in twos or threes in upright inflorescences , they form a dichasium . The female floret has a hairy, four- to six-column flowers sheath and a dreikammerigen ovary on the three scars sitting.


When fruits are triangular, 1 to 1.5 cm long, shiny chestnut nut fruit , the beechnuts formed. They sit in pairs, rarely in groups of three, in a heavily woody, externally soft- pricked , four- lobed fruit cup (cupula). The beechnuts ripen in autumn.

Sets of chromosomes

The basic chromosome number is x = 12; there is diploidy with chromosome numbers of 2n = 24.

Distribution and location requirements

Monoculture in spring green (southern Mecklenburg)

The genus Fagus is distributed with eight to eleven species in the northern temperate zone of Europe, North America and Asia. One species extends to Mexico. The greatest biodiversity is found in eastern Asia. The beech species prefer a mild winter and cool, humid oceanic climate in summer . Areas with severe winter and late frosts and severe drought are avoided. In their southern distribution areas, the beeches are limited to the mountainous areas.


Oriental beech ( Fagus orientalis )

The first description of the generic name Fagus took place in 1753 in Species Plantarum , 2, pp 997-998. Type species is Fagus sylvatica L. A synonym of Fagus L. is Phegos St.-Lag.

Fagus is the only genus of the subfamily Fagoideae within the family of Fagaceae . The genus of the southern beeches ( Nothofagus ), which used to belong to the Fagoideae, is now part of a separate family of the Nothofagaceae. According to the genetic data, the genus Fagus is the only sister group to the other genera of the Fagaceae family .

The genus Fagus is widely divided into two subgenus, with the subgenus Engleriana being limited to East Asia.

About eleven recent beech species ( Fagus ) are distinguished, with the status of some clans being disputed, so that the number of recognized species can differ depending on the author:

Subgenus Fagus

  • Fagus chienii Cheng : Insecure species. Only the type specimen is known , a single tree from Pingwu , Sichuan Province , China. Not found again when searching at the type locality. Very similar to Fagus lucida and probably synonymous with it.
  • Curb beech ( Fagus crenata flower )
  • American beech ( Fagus grandifolia Ehrh. ): There are two subspecies:
    • Fagus grandifolia Ehrh. subsp. grandifolia
    • Fagus grandifolia subsp. mexicana (Martínez) AEMurray (Syn .: Fagus mexicana Martínez )
  • Taiwanese beech ( Fagus hayatae Palib. Ex Hayata ): It occurs in the southern Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Zhejiang and in Taiwan .
  • Shiny beech ( Fagus lucida Rehder & EHWilson )
  • Oriental beech ( Fagus orientalis Lipsky , Syn .: Fagus sylvatica subsp. Orientalis (Lipsky) Greuter & Burdet , Fagus sylvatica var. asiatica A.DC. , Fagus sylvatica var. Macrophylla Hohen. Ex A.DC. , Fagus Sieboldii var. asiatica (A.DC.) Koehne , Fagus Sieboldii var. macrophylla (Hohen. ex A.DC.) Koehne , Fagus Hohenackeriana Palib. , Fagus pyramidalis Litv. , Fagus Hohenackeri Palib. ex Grossh. , Fagus orientalis var. dentata VVByalt & Firsov )
  • Chinese beech ( Fagus sinensis Oliv. , Syn .: Fagus longipetiolata Seemen ): The home is China and northern Vietnam.
  • European beech ( Fagus sylvatica L. )
  • Crimean beech Fagus × taurica Popl. (Syn .: Fagus moesiaca K.Malý , Fagus sylvatica subsp. Moesiaca (K.Malý) Szafer ) = Fagus orientalis × Fagus sylvatica . It occurs on the Balkan Peninsula and in the Crimea .

Subgenus Engleriana

Differentiation from similarly named genera

The genus of hornbeams or hornbeams ( Carpinus ) is similar to the beeches at first glance, but belongs to the birch family (Betulaceae).

The hop beech genus ( Ostrya ), which is similar to the hornbeam, also belongs to the birch family (Betulaceae).

The genus of the beeches ( Nothofagus ), which also resembles the beeches in appearance, is native to the southern hemisphere and belongs to the family of the beech plants (Nothofagaceae).


While some species such as curb beech or Japanese beech play a subordinate role in forestry , the common beech native to Central Europe is an important supplier of wood. The Buchholz is in Germany with a strike from a year about 7 million cubic meters (about 1/6 of the total felling in Germany) one of the most important hardwoods as commercial and industrial wood . Beech wood is also a first-class firewood because it burns long, brightly, hot and quietly; therefore it is more expensive than most other firewoods.

Wood properties (values ​​according to DIN 68364): modulus of elasticity 14,000 N / mm², compressive strength 60 N / mm², tensile strength 135 N / mm², flexural strength 120 N / mm², impact strength at break 100 kJ / m², Brinell hardness lengthways 65, crossways 37-41 N / mm²

Some varieties are used as ornamental trees in parks, avenues and gardens . In Japan the curb beech is grown as a bonsai .


By making estimates using the molecular clock method , the origin of the beeches can be traced back to the Chalk , presumably to the Campanian . Early fossil finds come from the Danium of Greenland, a subunit of the Paleocene . Together with Miocene finds from the island of Iceland, they show a far northern distribution in the Tertiary, far beyond today's northern distribution limit, where immigration from North America is assumed. The oldest division into the subgenus Fagus and the purely East Asian Engleriana , probably in the early Eocene around 53 million years ago, suggest that the recent lineage originated in the North Pacific region, either from North America or from East Asia. Fossil preserved are, in addition to the characteristic pollen, also foliage leaves and fruits as well as fruit cups, so already with the oldest directly fossil proven species, Fagus langevinii Manchester & Dillhoff from the early Eocene of British Columbia (Canada). A widespread species, Fagus castaneifolia Unger, is the only species found in western Eurasia until the Middle Miocene. In the Oligocene , beeches were already widespread in the lowlands in Germany and were one of the dominant forest tree species.


  • Andreas Roloff, Andreas Bärtels: Flora of the woods. Purpose, properties and use . 3rd, corrected edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5614-6 , pp. 294 .
  • Peter Schütt , Hans Joachim Schuck, Bernd Stimm (eds.): Lexicon of tree and shrub species. The standard work of forest botany. Morphology, pathology, ecology and systematics of important tree and shrub species . Nikol, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-933203-53-8 , pp. 165 (reprinted 1992).
  • Fagoideae within the Fagaceae family on the AP website . (Section systematics)

Web links

Commons : Book ( Fagus )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The country's largest beech is dying (SVZ 2011)
  2. a b c Schütt u. a .: Lexicon of tree and shrub species. P. 165.
  3. Roloff et al. a .: flora of woody plants. P. 294.
  4. a b c d e f g h Rafaël Govaerts (Ed.): Fagus. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) - The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Fagus at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  6. ^ Fagus in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  7. Rui ‐ Qi Li, Zhi ‐ Duan Chen, An ‐ Ming Lu, Douglas E. Soltis, Pamela S. Soltis, Paul S. Manos (2004): Phylogenetic Relationships in Fagales Based on DNA Sequences from Three Genomes. International Journal of Plant Sciences 165 (2): 311-324. doi: 10.1086 / 381920
  8. Type of Fagus chienii Cheng. Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, digitized by JSTOR Global Plants
  9. Huang Chengjiu (黄 成就 Huang Ching-chieu), Zhang Yongtian (张永田 Chang Yong-tian); Bruce Bartholomew (1999): Fagaceae. Flora of China 4: 314-400. online at
  10. D. Grosser, W. Teetz: Beech . In: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Holz eV (Ed.): Local timber (loose-leaf collection) . No. 7 . Information service wood, wood sales fund - sales promotion fund of the German forest and wood industry, 1998, ISSN  0446-2114 .
  11. SS Renner, Guido W. Grimm, Paschalia Kapli, Thomas Denk (2016): Species relationships and divergence times in beeches: new insights from the inclusion of 53 young and old fossils in a birth – death clock model. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Series B 371: 20150135. doi: 10.1098 / rstb.2015.0135
  12. a b c Friðgeir Grímsson, Guido W. Grimm, Reinhard Zetter, Thomas Denk (2016): Cretaceous and Paleogene Fagaceae from North America and Greenland: evidence for a Late Cretaceous split between Fagus and the remaining Fagaceae. Acta Palaeobotanica 56 (2): 247-305. doi: 10.1515 / acpa-2016-0016
  13. Fridgeir Grímsson, Thomas Denk (2005): Fagus from the Miocene of Iceland: systematics and biogeographical considerations. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 134: 27-54. doi: 10.1016 / j.revpalbo.2004.11.002
  14. Steven R. Manchester & Richard M. Dillhoff (2004): Fagus (Fagaceae) fruits, foliage, and pollen from the Middle Eocene of Pacific Northwestern North America. Canadian Journal of Botany 82: 1509-1517.
  15. Thomas Denk & Guido W. Grimm (2011): the fossil history of Fagus. Proceedings of the 9th IUFRO International Beech Symposium “Ecology and Silviculture of Beech”, September 12-17, 2011, edited by Sven Wagner, Nils Fahlvik, Holger Fischer: Pages 1-3.