Pierce Park European Beech

This mature, round-shaped European Beech has not always been here alone. Two identical Beech trees stood together in front of Pierce House for decades. Sadly, the other tree got sick and had to be removed.

The European Beech seems to reign unchallenged in the history of Europe. Historians claim that the first written European literature was inscribed on Beech bark. The English word book comes from the Anglo-Saxon boc, a derivative for beece or Beech. People in Germanic societies often used Beech wood tablets for writing before paper was available. The modern word book derives from the Old English bōc. Both bōc and Old Norse bók primarily mean beech and carry book as a secondary meaning. Similar patterns occur in modern German and Dutch. In Swedish, bok means both beech and book.

The Chinese closely guarded the secret of paper manufacture. But in 751 A.D. Arabs captured Chinese papermakers and started their own industry in 793 A.D. By 1150 A.D. the crusades had brought paper to Spain and the first paper industry in Europe was established. In 1453 A.D. Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press. The first paper industry in North America was built in Philadelphia in 1690.

In evolutionary terms, recent research indicates that the Beech is the most basal of trees in the Fagaceae family. It originated the Oak, the Chestnut, the Chinquapin and all other plants in its family.