Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea

23 May

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea (12/05/2011, Cambridge)

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea (12/05/2011, Cambridge)

Position: Flourishes in full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Moist but well drained.

Flowering period: Early summer

Eventual Height: 20m

Eventual Spread: 10m

Hardiness: 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a

Family: Fagaceae

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea is a deciduous tree with a spreading habit. It has elliptic-ovate, wavy margined leaves that are silky when young maturing to a glossy purple. On the juvenile tree (and juvenile parts of a mature tree) the leaves will turn a golden brown and remain on the tree throughout  the winter months. The flower is in the form of catkins being produced after the leaves have emerged. Flowers of this monoecious tree will not be produced until the plant is mature. Following on from the flowers, maturing in the autumn,  are the beach nut pods, producing two triangular nuts to each pod.

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea fruit (12/05/2011, Cambridge)

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea fruit (12/05/2011, Cambridge)

The species Fagus sylvatica is native to much of Europe including Southern England. Historically it has had many uses; its wood is good for burning as well as for making drums. The beach nuts were also eaten, but care should be taken if you intend to try them as they can be harmful in large quantities due to the quantities of tannins contained within the nut.

The etymological root of the binomial name Fagus is the old Latin name for the Beech tree, some scholars believe it to be derived from the Greek phago meaning ‘to eat’, as the nuts were a historic source of food. Sylvatica is also derived from the Latin meaning ‘ of the woods’. f. is shorthand for forma with purpurea being in reference to its dark purple leaves.

The landscape architect may find Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea useful as a beautiful specimen tree  Despite being deciduous this tree forms an attractive hedge, as juvenile growth will retain its golden brown leaves in the winter months to continue act as a screen. The regular pruning of a Beach hedge will ensure the tree remains juvenile and as a consequence retains its leave during the winter months.

Fagus sylvatica purpurea Hedge (04/10/2015, Kingston Maurward Gardens, Dorchester)

Fagus sylvatica purpurea Hedge (04/10/2015, Kingston Maurward Gardens, Dorchester)

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea is happy at most pH levels and the soil may be chalk, clay, loam or sand. It may be placed in a sheltered or exposed location but will not thrive in a north facing position.

Ecologically, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea will cater for the larvae of some species of Lepidoptera. Birds and other animals will eat its fruit/ nuts and occasionally inhabit its canopy.

The Royal Horticultural Society have given Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea requires little maintenance. Hedge maintenance as well as the removal of dead and damaged material should be carried out in July.

DAVIS Landscape Architecture

Landscape Architecture

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