Seed - raw or cooked. A pleasant sweet flavour, though rather small and fiddly[K]. The seed can also be dried and ground into a powder and then used with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc. The seed is rich in oil. The seed should not be eaten in large quantities because it contains a deleterious principle. The seed contains 17 - 20% of an edible semi-drying oil. This stores well without going rancid and is said to be equal in delicacy to olive oil. It is used as a dressing for salads and also for cooking. The seed residue is poisonous.The roasted seed is used as a coffee substitute.
The leaf buds harvested in the winter and dried on the twigs are used as toothpicks. The leaves are gathered in autumn and used as a stuffing material for mattresses etc. Wood - hard, heavy, strong, very durable. It is not suitable for outdoor use and is often attacked by a small beetle. It has a wide range of applications, including furniture, flooring, turnery etc. It makes a very good fuel, burning with a lot of heat, and yields a charcoal known as 'Carbo Ligni Pulveratus'.The wood has often been used as a source of creosote, tar, methyl alcohol. acetic acid.
A tar (or creosote), obtained by dry distillation of the branches, is stimulating and antiseptic. It is used internally as a stimulating expectorant and externally as an application to various skin diseases. The pure creosote has been used to give relief from toothache, but it should not be used without expert guidance.The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'Intolerance', 'Criticism' and 'Passing judgements'.
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Trees have two growth periods a year, each of about 3 weeks in duration. The first is in spring around the end of April, the second is in summer, around the end of July. Trees are often slow growing and also can be very slow to establish after transplanting. However, in good conditions they are capable of growing up to a metre in a year. Young trees are very shade tolerant, but are subject to frost damage to their flowers and young leaves and so are best grown in a woodland position which will protect them. An important food plant for many caterpillars, it has 64 species of associated insects. Trees have a heavy canopy and cast a dense shade, very few other species can grow in a dense beech wood and on suitable soils it becomes the dominant species. Very intolerant of coppicing, trees producing none or only very weak growth afterwards and this is soon smothered by other plants. Plants are very tolerant of light pruning however and if this is carried out in late summer the plants will retain their dead leaves over winter. There are many named forms selected for their ornamental value. Those forms with purple leaves prefer a position in full sun whilst forms with yellow leaves prefer some shade.This species is notably resistant to honey fungus.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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