An ancient beech tree in its autumn colours

Common beech

Common beeches are beautiful woodland and landscape trees at any time of year. Pairs of nuts (masts) are produced in autumn from the female flowers, making a welcome source of food for deer, squirrels and mice. Livestock were once released into beech woodlands to feast on the beech's oil-rich bounty. This large, graceful giant can reach 40 metres or more, has alternate silky green oval leaves and a smooth grey bark. Beech trees are common throughout the chalky soils of Europe and were once thought to have been introduced into Britain by the Romans. However, pollen dating suggests they have been here since the last ice age.

Scientific name: Fagus sylvatica

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Beech,
  • European beech

Watch video clips from past programmes (3 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


The Common beech can be found in a number of locations including: Europe, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Common beech distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • Timelapse photography: speeding up life Timelapse photography: speeding up life

    Some of the most memorable sequences in natural history result from timelapse photography, an astonishing filming technique that opens our eyes to a whole new world.

  • Wild autumn Wild autumn

    Autumn - a time of great change, of breathtaking migrations, of high drama.