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Beech

beech tree

Fagus species

Description

Beech trees are large (9 to 24 meters), symmetrical forest trees that have smooth, light-gray bark and dark green foliage. The character of its bark, plus its clusters of prickly seed pods, clearly distinguish the beech tree in the field.

Habitat and Distribution

This tree is found in the Temperate Zone. It grows wild in the eastern United States, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is found in moist areas, mainly in the forests. This tree is common throughout southeastern Europe and across temperate Asia. Beech relatives are also found in Chile, New Guinea, and New Zealand.

Edible Parts

The mature beech nuts readily fall out of the husk like seed pods. You can eat these dark brown triangular nuts by breaking the thin shell with your fingernail and removing the white, sweet kernel inside. Beech nuts are one of the most delicious of all wild nuts. They are a most useful survival food because of the kernel’s high oil content.

You can also use the beech nuts as a coffee substitute. Roast them so that the kernel becomes golden brown and quite hard. Then pulverize the kernel and, after boiling or steeping in hot water, you have a passable coffee substitute.

Steve's notes:

Beech nut are delicious if you can find them. In my experience, the nuts don't often form inside the shell. Crack the shell open, and you'll usually find nothing.

The new leaf-buds are reported by some to be edible. I have eaten them, but more just for something to chew. They are very fibrous.



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The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Beech