The nuts have 3 wings and the woody husk is covered with spines. The nuts are irregularly triangular, shiny brown and edible.
POISONOUS PARTS: Unripe, raw nuts (seeds).
Low toxicity if eaten.
EDIBLE PARTS: Nutmeats, in small quantities, edible raw or cooked. Young leaves can be cooked for greens in the spring. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Early settlers gathered many beech nuts to extract the oil, which is similar to olive oil and was used as both food and lamp oil. (Kershaw)
The first page of European literature was probably written on Beech. It is said, the earliest Sanskrit characters were carved on strips of Beech bark. The custom of inscribing the temptingly smooth boles of Beeches came to Europe with the Indo-European people who entered the continent from Asia. (Peattie)
The wood is almost white and is used most often in toys, cookware, furniture and for barrels which age beer. The tree is very resistant to decay under water so it was used to make water wheels in Colonial times. The wood is also used for tool handles, chairs, cuttings boards, and for making charcoal. (Gilman and Watson)
Not a good street or parking lot tree due to its need for good soil and low-branching,
horizontal habit. (Gilman and Watson)
The early settlers in Southern Ontario often used dried beech leaves as filling material for mattresses, because the leaves gave that certain springy comfort which was lacking with the universal material, straw. (Hosie, R.C. - Nat. Trees of CA
Synonym: Fagus americana
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