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.
- City parkway
- Wide median
- Residential and parks
- 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
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Acid soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Attractive bark
- Edible fruit
- Fall color
- Early winter
- Mid winter
- Early fall
- Mid fall
- Late fall
- Cavity-nesting birds
- Game birds
- Small mammals
Size and Form
50 to 60 feet high and 35 to 45 feet wide; rounded with low branches at maturity.
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
Fern-leaved European Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Asplenifolia’): Graceful, lustrous green cut leaves turn golden brown in fall.
River’s Copper Beach (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.