Landscape Literacy

Plant of the Week: European Beech Tree

Fagus sylvatica, more commonly known as a European Beech, is a popular ornamental shade tree. Beech trees tend to branch close to the ground and are particularly dense. They are less hardy in areas south of DC as they do not tolerate extreme heat. The variety pictured above, ‘Purpurea’, does tolerate southern climate better, and is considered to be rather petite compared to its relatives.

Light Needs: Part shade

Watering Needs: Well-drained soil

Average Size: 50′-60′, less commonly 100’+, with a spread of 35′-40′

Why we love this plant: Many consider this specimen tree one of the finest choices available. Leaves change in color in each season, providing a variety of interest. While the European Beech is available in many varieties, each with their own merits, the Purple-leaved group is of particular interest to us. Young leaves are deep black-red and will eventually lighten to purple-green, often mostly green. The compact nature makes it a great shade tree and ornamental choice for many of our clients in Montgomery County and DC areas.