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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fagus sylvatica

I always like seeing beech trees in the spring, and while driving today on Highway 129 at the intersection of Coward Rd. sits an old farm house with no fewer that 4 beautiful old purple beeches. Can't say for sure what variety but considering the age most likely 'Purpurea'.

But I love all beech trees, not equally of course. This below is one at Kew Gardens and is the green weeping variety 'Pendula'.



We don't see lots of beech trees here. In England or in the Pacific NW you will see tons of them. The great thing about beeches is there are so many variations. You can find green ones, purple ones, yellow ones, tricolored ones, narrow ones, weeping ones, upright weeping ones, some with round leaves, narrow leaves, and on an on and just about any combination of the above. We do have some green ones, and a few weeping purple ones as well as a handful of purple ones. These are in a collection of beech trees at Windsor Park.



Beeches are deciduous trees, 45-70 feet tall and maybe 40 plus wide. The trunks are massive, and beautiful in their own right. Most purple beeches develop a rounded to oval crown with the lower branches remaining and will cover the ground if not pruned up. The canopy is quite full but top out at 45' feet. Most beeches are very pyramidal when young.



Leaves are alternate, simple, elliptical to oval shaped, about 4" long, with very distinct veins. Margins are undulate and sometimes ciliate (short hairs sticking out from the margins. They are also hard to get the color in a photograph. 



Stems are smooth, even with age. The buds are long and sharp pointed and are held at a 45 degree angle to the zigzag stem. Very easy to identify in the winter.



Trunk are massive with beautiful smooth bark. A muse see for sure.



Flowers are hardly noticeable, but the fruit that develops is a 1" oval capsule with 4 openings and long burrs on the outside.



This is a picture of some roots from trees in England.



Beeches are often used as hedges in the UK.



This is 'Purple Fountains' with its upright leader and pendulous laterals. (see below for locations)



Other beeches you might encounter:

The tricolor beech, 'Roseoomarginata' (also called 'Argenteo Marginata') is popular but seems to burn.




Fagus sylvatica 'Aurea'


Misidentification: Not sure, look at the leaves, and especially the lateral buds.

Location:
Watsonville. 
Intersection of highway 129 and Coward Rd.

Casserly Rd, about the 900 block but I am not sure what that means. There is a grove of 5 just next to Four Winds Nursery across from Suncrest Nursery.

Santa Cruz.
Along Mission St (1125 or so) is one that had some utility pruning. There is a smaller one just across the street as well.
Intersection of Green St and Cross St. is a nice one.

Capitola.
4725 Clares is a Green weeping green one and an upright purple one.
4581 Opal Cliff Drive has 3 purple weeping ones, (there are 2 purple weepers in the industry, one narrow upright 'Purple Fountain' with weeping laterals and one with a weeping terminal leader), this location both of them.
4655 Capitola Road is a purple weeping one

Filoli Garden has a very nice old hedge.

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