Although the European beech is often thought of as native to southern England, biogeographic evidence suggests that the species did not arrive in until 4000 BC, meaning it was likely introduced by Stone age humans, who used the nuts as a source of food.
In America, beech trees have long been popular as they are often an indicator of fertile soil and would be sought out as a location that was likely for the growth of successful crops.
When examining the role of the European beech specifically, it has been intentionally cultivated since around the 19th century, and is very popular as an ornamental tree. Although there is an American variety, the European counterpart is often favored as it grows more rapidly to allow for earlier enjoyment.
The wood of the European beech is well suited for furniture. Chairs, flooring, and staircases are all common uses. Although staircases are loadbearing, beech wood is not well suited to substantial structural support and is rarely used as beams. Due to the density of the wood, it is often selected for work surfaces. On occasion, it can be used to create paper. One of the primary purposes of the wood is as firewood.
In the past, the beech nuts were used to create oil and were ground to make flour.
Presently, a product used to create an artificial smoke flavor is made from the European beech.