Fagus – Beech Tree

The common beech, Fagus sylvatica, is a European species, also indigenous to the British Isles. It is without doubt Britain’s most impressive large landscape tree, admired equally for its fresh green young leaves, for its handsome smooth grey trunk and winter-branch tracery and for the rich golden brown of its autumn foliage. It thrives on all well-drained soils and is particularly at home where the subsoil is chalk. There are many forms in cultivation, some of which are restricted enough in ultimate growth for use in small gardens.

F.s. Aurea pendula is a remarkable form of tall slender habit, with branches which hang down almost perpendicularly. The foliage is golden yellow. It should be sited in semi-shade. F.s. Dawyck (syn. Fastigiata), the Dawyck beech, becomes a handsome tall tree of conical habit and F.s. Heterophylla, the fern-leaved beech, is one of the most beautiful and unusual forms making a large tree. The fern-like leaves are variable in shape but usually deeply cut and lobed. There is also a beautiful variant, rohanii, with purple leaves.

Fagus sylvatica

F.s. Purpurea, the purple or copper beech, is a popular large tree but it is often variable in foliage colour if raised from seed. The best variety riversii, which nurserymen supply as a grafted young tree, has large, deep purple, lustrous leaves.

F.s. Purpurea pendula, the weeping purple beech, makes a magnificent small weeping tree and is perhaps the best form of purple-leaved beech for the small garden.