European beech woodland in spring

Beech wood

Beech woods are dominated by the thick dense canopy of the beech tree. In summer this roof of leaves prevents sunlight from reaching the forest floor, stifling the growth of many other trees and wildflowers. However in spring, before the canopy forms, it's a different story when swathes of bluebells carpet the ground. Beech leaves take a long time to decay, so few nutrients are released to nourish ground plants. Consequently, there is little undergrowth in a beech wood, unless trees have been deliberately thinned out (coppiced). Beech woods are found on both calcareous and acidic soils.

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