Common beech

Common Beech

©Gillian Day

Common Beech

©Jon Hawkins/Surrey Hills Photography

Common Beech

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Common beech

Scientific name: Fagus sylvatica
An iconic tree, particularly in the south of the UK, the Common beech stands tall and proud in woodlands and parks. It turns beautiful golden-brown in autumn, strewing the floor with its 'mast' (nuts).

Species information


Height: up to 40m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Common beech is one of our most iconic trees, particularly in the woodlands of the south, such as those found in the Chilterns. Here, it grows tall and broad, turning a shining golden-brown in autumn as its leaves die, and littering the woodland floor with its nuts (known as 'mast'). Beech wood is used for furniture and ornaments; from the 18th century onwards, straight-trunked, uncoppiced trees became a more frequent site in woods and parks - ideal for timber.

How to identify

The Common beech has shiny, soft, oval leaves; smooth, grey bark; torpedo-shaped buds; and large, hairy fruit that contain the beech nuts.


Widespread in Southern and Central England; widely planted elsewhere.

Did you know?

The Common beech has been cultivated for many years, producing some beautiful varieties, including the deep red Copper beech.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.