Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech, is a deciduous tree belonging to the beech family Fagacaea. It has a natural range extending from southern Sweden though to central Italy, west to France, northern Portugal and central Spain. Although oft regarded as a native in southern England, recent evidence suggests it did not reach here after until after the English Channel was formed in the ice ages.
It is a large tree, capable of reaching heights of up to 49 m and 3 m trunk diameter. It has a typical lifespan of 150 to 200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years. The appearance varies according to its habitat and forest conditions; it tends to have a long, slender light-gray trunk with a narrow crown and erect branches; in isolation with good side light, the trunk is short with a large and widely spreading crown with very long branches.
The leaves of beech are often not dropped in the autumn and instead remain on the tree until the spring. This particularly occurs when trees are are clipped as a hedge (as commonly seen in Denmark).