European beech is a large, graceful tree appropriate for large properties like parks. This species has smooth silvery gray bark and a low branching pattern.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Fall color,
- Edible fruit,
- Attractive bark
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
- Cavity-nesting birds,
- Game birds,
- Small mammals,
Tree & Plant Care
Does not tolerate wet or compacted soil; drought sensitive and must be watered well in dry periods.
Avoid foot trafic over the root system.
Disease, pests, and problems
Generally low maintenance, but cankers can be a problem.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Europe.
Bark color and texture
Bark is smooth gray with an elephant-hide appearance.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Simple, alternate leaves with shallow teeth; attractive dark green; 2 to 4 inches long.
Fall color is russet or bronze.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Inconspicuous; separate male and female flowers on the same tree.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Edible beechnuts, triangular shape; usually two nuts in a prickly husk.
Cultivars and their differences
River’s Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’) : A purple-leaved selection featuring large glossy leaves; foliage emerges deep purple in spring, fades to purple-green in summer and finally turns copper in autumn.
Tricolored European Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Tricolor’) : This cultivar has purple leaves with an irregular rose and pinkish white border; smaller than the species (30 feet tall). Light shade during the heat of the day is needed to keep the light colored leaf edges from burning.
Weeping European Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’): A weeping form with variable shape.