Family: Fagaceae
Common Name: Beech

Widely distributed through temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, beech is valued as an ornamental for its lovely foliage and autumn colour. It is also prized for its timber. These large, decid­uous trees are grown in mixed woodland gar-dens and parks and as specimen trees. Common beech is used extensively for hedging in Britain.


F. grandifolia, American beech, zone 4, is a spreading tree, to about 10 m (33 ft), that may be as wide as it is high.

F. sylvatica, known as common beech, zone 5, may grow to 25 m (80 ft) high and 15 m (50 ft) wide. The dark green foliage is silky when young and turns a rich golden brown in autumn. Nuts contain­ing triangular seeds are also shed in autumn. The form purpurea is the copper beech, recognizable by its deep burgundy to purple foliage which turns a brilliant copper colour in autumn. 'Aspleniifolia', fern leaf beech, has narrow leaves, deeply cut into slender lobes; 'Dawyck' is a very upright form, 7-8 m (23-26 ft) tall; 'Riversii', with very deep purple leaves, must be grafted to maintain its colour; 'Zlatia' has yellow foliage when young which turns green through summer and colours a rich yellow in autumn.

F. syl­vatica f. pendula, the weeping beech, is an out-standing specimen tree with pendulous branches from which thick curtains of foliage hang down.


Although adaptable to a wide range of soils and conditions, beech prefers well-drained soil of moderate fertility. These trees can be planted in full sun or dappled shade, though copper beech needs full sun to produce the most intense foliage colour. The yellow-leaved forms prefer partial shade.


Cool to cold climates.