(15) THE BEECH
The BEECH (Fagus sylvatica, L.) is one of the largest British trees, particularly on chalky or sandy soils. It is a handsome tree in every stage of its growth, but is more injurious to plants under its drip than other trees, so that shade-bearing trees, as holly, yew, and thuja, suffer. Its leaves, however, enrich the soil.
In England and America the beech has a remarkable power of holding the ground where the soil is congenial, and the deep shade prevents the growth of other trees. It is often and most usefully mixed with oak and Scotch fir.
The timber is not remarkable either for strength or durability. It was formerly much used in milk-work and turnery; but its principal use as present is in the manufacture of chairs, bedsteads, and a variety of minor articles.
It is a native of the south of England, and of various parts of the continent of Europe. There are some varieties, particularly purple and weeping beech; and there are one or two species natives of North America, but none of them deserve notice as timber-trees.
It is propagated by its mast, which is produced plentifully in fine seasons.
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