BEECH  -  A - Z of WOOD

 

 

 

 

 

Beech (Fagus) is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America. Recent classifications recognize 10 to 13 species in two distinct subgenera, Engleriana and Fagus. The Engleriana subgenus is found only in East Asia, distinctive for their low branches, often made up of several major trunks with yellowish bark. The better known Fagus subgenus beeches are high-branching with tall, stout trunks and smooth silver-grey bark. The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is the most commonly cultivated.

Beeches are monoecious, bearing both male and female flowers on the same plant. The small flowers are unisexual, the female flowers borne in pairs, the male flowers wind-pollinating catkins. They are produced in spring shortly after the new leaves appear. The fruit of the beech tree, known as beechnuts or mast, is found in small burrs that drop from the tree in autumn. They are small, roughly triangular and edible, with a bitter, astringent, or mild and nut-like taste.

The European species Fagus sylvatica yields a utility timber that is tough but dimensionally unstable. It is widely used for furniture framing and carcase construction, flooring and engineering purposes, in plywood and in household items like plates, but rarely as a decorative wood. The timber can be used to build chalets, houses, and log cabins.

Beech wood also makes excellent firewood, easily split and burning for many hours with bright but calm flames. Slats of washed beech wood are spread around the bottom of fermentation tanks for Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch) beer. Beech logs are burned to dry the malt used in some German smoked beers. Beech is also used to smoke Westphalian ham, andouille sausage, and some cheeses. 

Beech wood is an excellent firewood, easily split and burning for many hours with bright but calm flames. Slats of beech wood are washed in caustic soda to leach out any flavour or aroma characteristics and are spread around the bottom of fermentation tanks for Budweiser beer. This provides a complex surface on which the yeast can settle, so that it does not pile up, preventing yeast autolysis which would contribute off-flavours to the beer. Beech logs are burned to dry the malt used in German smoked beers. Beech is also used to smoke Westphalian ham, traditional andouille (an offal sausage) from Normandy, and some cheeses.

Some drums are made from beech, which has a tone between those of maple and birch, the two most popular drum woods.

The textile modal is a kind of rayon often made wholly from reconstituted cellulose of pulped beech wood.

The European species Fagus sylvatica yields a utility timber that is tough but dimensionally unstable. It weighs about 720 kg per cubic metre and is widely used for furniture framing and carcase construction, flooring and engineering purposes, in plywood and in household items like plates, but rarely as a decorative wood. The timber can be used to build chalets, houses and log cabins.

Beech wood is used for the stocks of military rifles when traditionally preferred woods such as walnut are scarce or unavailable or as a lower-cost alternative.

The edible fruit of the beech tree, known as beechnuts or mast, is found in small burrs that drop from the tree in autumn. They are small, roughly triangular and edible, with a bitter, astringent, or in some cases, mild and nut-like taste. According to the Roman statesman Pliny the Elder in his work Natural History, beechnut was eaten by the people of Chios when the town was besieged, writing of the fruit: "that of the beech is the sweetest of all; so much so, that, according to Cornelius Alexander, the people of the city of Chios, when besieged, supported themselves wholly on mast". The leaves can be steeped in liquor to give a light green/yellow liqueur. They can also be roasted and pulverized into an adequate coffee substitute.

In antiquity, the bark of beech tree were used by Indo-European people for writing-related purposes, especially in religious context. Beech wood tablets were a common writing material in Germanic societies before the development of paper. The Old English bōc has the primary sense of "beech" but also a secondary sense of "book", and it is from bōc that the modern word derives. In modern German, the word for "book" is Buch, with Buche meaning "beech tree". In modern Dutch, the word for "book" is boek, with beuk meaning "beech tree". In Swedish, these words are the same, bok meaning both "beech tree" and "book". There is a similar relationship in some Slavic languages. In Russian and Bulgarian, the word for beech is бук (buk), while that for "letter" (as in a letter of the alphabet) is буква (bukva), while Serbo-Croatian and Slovene use "bukva" to refer to the tree.

 

 

Akasa
Ash
Balsa
Bamboo
Beech

Birch, Silver
Cedar
Celtis

Chipboard
Conifer
Cherry
Dahoma
Dant
Douglas fir
European Beech
Elm
Greenheart
Iroko
Khaya
Ligneous

Mahogany
Maple
Meranti

MDF
Oak
Oak, European
Opepe
Okoume
Pine
Pitch Pine

Plywood
Poplar
Redwood, European
Sapele
Sitka Spruce
Southern Yellow Pine
Teak
Utile
Walnut
Western Hemlock
Western Red Cedar
Whitewood, European


Bamboo is versatile and has notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a raw product, and depicted often in arts, such as in bamboo paintings and bambooworking. Bamboo, like wood, is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures. Bamboo's strength-to-weight ratio is similar to timber, and its strength is generally similar to a strong softwood or hardwood timber.

 

Wood is good. It is a natural material growing all over the planet as trees. As these trees grow, they convert carbon dioxide to timber for humans to harvest and cut up in sawmills, after the dead tree has had time to season.

 

Planting more trees than we cut down is one way of sustainably managing forests, so that we don't upset the balance and reduce the carbon sink that keeps our planet cool. Unfortunately, some logging is not properly policed, such as the clearing of large swathes of jungle, to grow cash crops.

 

We should be going the other way, re-wilding areas, instead of farming them. But, wood is useful to build houses and make furniture. Hence, we should plan our assault on the natural world more carefully. Even if it means creating laws to stop the plunder in the Amazon and other rainforests.

 

We also need wood to make plywood, MDF, stirling board and chipboard. Wood is the basis of paper and cardboard. Pound for pound, some timbers are stronger than steel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOOD - This building dating from C. 1900 is of wooden construction, seen here undergoing re-roofing in 2018. When built the timbers were not treated. Amazingly, despite serious flora invasion and insects, the building is in relatively good condition. A good example of carbon lock, and something that perhaps a circular economy should be based on.

 

 

 

 

 

HERSTMONCEUX GENERATING STATION

 

The generating station just 400 yards from Gardner (High) Street, in the Sussex village of Herstmonceux, is the oldest surviving early example of municipal electricity generation, in a rural setting in the whole world. For this reason the generating buildings are now being converted by the Lime Park Heritage Trust. At present, the complex enjoys no reasonable of beneficial use to pay for general maintenance and security, as a heritage asset in a relatively exposed position, and constructed of timber. Fortunately, the walkers in this field are a great bunch. Very friendly and chat with each other. Also keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.

 

 

 

 

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WOOD IS A NATURAL CARBON LOCK - SO PLEASE PLANT MORE TREES SUSTAINABLY

 

 

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