Beech Trees In The Netherlands Friday, January 06, 2006 
Jeroen Philippona

Here some information about the now former tallest beeches of the Netherlands.

Before I wrote you the tallest beech in an alley at the estate of Middachten near Arnhem was measured up to 48,5 m (159,12 feet).

Alas the oldest part of this alley including this tallest individual was cut last November 2005, because the owner thought it very dangerous: two beeches of the alley had fallen spontaneous because of being hollowed out by a fungus, several of the beeches were hollow as well. Here some pictures of the trees some years before and some days after cutting. 

beukenlaan_1_150.jpg (75767 bytes)

Beukenlaan Middachten-1-150

beukenlaan_5a.jpg (58602 bytes)

Beukenlaan Middachten-5a

beukenlaan_3_100.jpg (43140 bytes)

Beukenlaan Middachten-3-100

When I came there the tallest of the beeches had been removed already. The neighboring tree was the largest of all (cbh 495 cm / 16.24 feet) and was still lying (see photo with me beside it), so I could measure its length: 44.25 meter / 145.177 feet. Standing it was perhaps somewhat less high. The tallest tree (cbh only 295 cm / 9.68 feet) had been about two meter taller. The forester told me he had measured it while standing just before cutting by clinometer as 46 meter / 150.9 feet), so his measurement seemed better than that of Leo Goudzwaard by Digital Vertex Hypsometer. Alas he did not measure it after the cutting.

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Middachten grote beuk gekapt

middachten_oprij_gekapt.jpg (50553 bytes)

Middachten oprij gekapt

Nearby there are still tall beeches standing, but probably not taller than 44 m / 145 feet.

So I think this will be about the maximum height European beech can get in the Netherlands, but also think that the heights of 160 feet given elsewhere in Europe (Germany, France, former Yugo-Slavia, Roumania) are reliable.

Jeroen Philippona


Re:  Beech Trees In The Netherlands   Friday Jan 06, 2006
   Will Blozan

Many, many thanks for the photos and report. I would like to post it to the ENTS site with your permission. How utterly sad that they were cut! What a gorgeous grove- I love the photo of the people walking in the distance. Do you know when they were planted? Is the wood worth anything?

Yes, the Digital Vertex Hypsometer would have greatly overestimated the height. Your ground measurement is likely representative of the height of the grove in general. Someday I hope to see the great European trees. Fagus sylvatica crushes the growth of our native F. grandifolia, even here in the US. Our beeches rarely even reach 40 meters tall.


Re:  Beech Trees In The Netherlands   Sunday, January 08, 2006 
  Jeroen Philippona

Of course you have my permission. Indeed it was very sad this alley was cut,
there had been protest but because it is the main entrance to an important
castle, because of the danger of more trees falling, the protest was
overruled. The former owner, a count, called the alley his beech-cemetery
and wanted to let it die naturally, but he died himself five years ago.
Since then his son wanted to cut the trees, what the forester had advised
already for a long time. They had to get permission by the government and
had to wait till research had been done if the trees were important for bats
and owls. In October report came out that there was no significant colony of
bats and also no nests of owls and permission was given to cut the trees. 
Some of them, among which the largest, were nearly totally sound and without
hollow. I forgot to tell you that I counted the rings: the tree was somewhat
over 230 years. According to information given by the estate and the
forester, the alley indeed was planted with young trees in 1776. On the same
estate some oaks (Q. robur) were planted in 1715 and 1733. They are less
tall, the tallest being between 110 and 120 feet. 
beukenlaan_6.jpg (119542 bytes)

Beukenlaan Middachten-6

beukenlaan_7a.jpg (50016 bytes)

Beukenlaan Middachten-7a

I don't think the wood was very valuable, because the majority of the trees
were hollow, with rotten wood. The trees which were sound perhaps had wood of
good quality, but in this area there has been a lot of fighting in the
second world war, what gave granate-scarfs in the wood. 

Jeroen Philippona