Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Beech drip

Posted on by royvickery |

2014-05-03 11.21.33

Patrick Roper asks if anyone has  information about the possible belief that the ‘drip’ from beech (Fagus sylvatica) poisons the ground beneath the trees.  Thomas Hardy appears to refer to this in two of his poems, The Ivy-wife and in In a Wood:

I longed to love a full-boughed beech/ And be as high as he:/I stretched an arm within his reach/ And signalled unity/ But with his drip he forced a breach/ And tried to poison me.


Pale beech and pine-tree blue/ Set in one clay/ Bough to bough cannot you/ Bide out your day?/ When the rains skim and skip/ Why mar such comradeship/ Blighting with poison-drip/ Neighbourly spray? Please send any comments to


As it happens I was on a botanical walk  at Croham Hurst, in the London Borough of Croydon, earlier today.  On entering an area of beech wood (see image), the following conversation took place:

Leader:  Nothing much grows under beech trees, they produce such a deep shade.

F. O’F:  It’s not only that they give off poison.

R.V.:  What from their roots?

F. O’F:  I don’t know, but I know they give off poison [RV, 3 May 2014].

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