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|European Beech leaves and cupules|
The flowers are small and single-sex (monoecious), the female flowers are carried in pairs, the male flowers are wind-pollinating catkins, produced in spring shortly after the new leaves appear. The bark is smooth and light grey. The fruit is a small, sharply three–anglend nut 10–15 mm long. The nuts are edible, though bitter (though not nearly as bitter as acorns). They have a high tannin content, and are called beechnuts or beechmast.
Beech grows on a wide range of soil types, acid or basic, provided they are not wet for long periods. The tree canopy casts a heavy shade, and the leaves, when dropped, cover the ground thickly. Few plant grow under beech trees.
In North America, they often form Beech-Maple forests by growing together with the Sugar Maple.