Fagus or Beech trees are popular for their elegant shape and attractive, densely packaged leaves. The deciduous foliage comes in a range of colours from bright lime green to dark purple and often holds on through winter with its autumn colouring. Choose from rounded, upright and graceful weeping forms of Beech tree.
Fagus, to use its Latin name, is a genus of deciduous trees in the Fagaceae family. The genus contains a number of subgenus, with Fagus sylvatica (European Beech) cultivars being popular as ornamental trees due to their range of size, form and foliage colours. The autumn foliage often holds on during winter, making them ideal for screening and providing interest.
For a grand appearance, consider the native Fagus sylvatica or purple-leaved Fagus sylvatica purpurea. Their dense foliage also makes them ideal for hedging. On the opposite end of the scale, the compact size of Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea Pendula' makes it suited to small spaces. For striking golden lime coloured foliage, look no further than Fagus sylvatica 'Dawyck Gold'.
Beech trees produce small catkins that are male and fluffy looking flowers that are female. They are monoecious trees, meaning that a single tree produces both male and female reproductive parts. These are followed by edible nuts, called beechmast or beechnuts, but are very bitter.
Sunny or partially shaded positions will suit Beech trees and they grow in a range of soil types, except for waterlogged soils. Our pot grown Beech trees can be planted at any time of year. For detailed advice, view our planting guide & videos. Beech trees are best pruned between autumn and early spring.
Beech hedging is best trimmed in August to maintain its size. Young Beech hedging does not require much pruning, but if you want to thicken it up you can shorten long shoots by up to one third. Mature hedging can be pruned to reduce its size in February/March. If you need to dramatically reduce the size, stagger it by focusing on reducing the height the first year and the width the following year.
These trees provide a source of food for wildlife with the aforementioned catkins and nuts, but they also provide valuable shelter. They are particularly good for attracting birds, squirrels and butterflies. The leaf canopy casts an attractive but dense shade so only plants tolerant of full shade will grow at the base of beech trees. This can be a blessing in the natural world, allowing rarer plants to establish.
The light-coloured, hard wood of Beech makes attractive flooring and furniture. It is also used for utensils and a variety of other objects. The wood is good as firewood and used to smoke various meats and cheeses. Model is a textile used in clothing and bedding that is formed with the cellulose from pulped Beech wood.