Herb: Japanese Beech
Latin name: Fagus crenata
Family: Fagaceae (Beech Family)
Edible parts of Japanese Beech:Young leaves - raw. A very nice mild flavour but the leaves quickly become tough so only the youngest should be used. New growth is usually produced for 2 periods of 3 weeks each year, one in spring and one in mid-summer. Edible seed - raw or cooked. Rich in oil. The seed should not be eaten in large quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. It can be dried and ground into a powder. An edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Forests all over Japan.
Propagation of Japanese Beech:Seed - the seed has a short viability and is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Protect the seed from mice. Germination takes place in the spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seedlings are slow growing for the first few years and are very susceptible to damage by late frosts. The seed can also be sown in an outdoor seedbed in the autumn. The seedlings can be left in the open ground for three years before transplanting, but do best if put into their final positions as soon as possible and given some protection from spring frosts.
Cultivation of the herb:Forests all over Japan.
Medicinal use of Japanese Beech:None known
Known hazards of Fagus crenata:Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, large quantities of the seed of many species in this genus are thought to be toxic.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.