European Beech Fagus Sylvatica

european birch fagus sylvatica

American Beech Tree (Fagus Grandifolia) and European Beech (Fagus Sylvatica)

The beech tree , whose scientific names are Fagus Grandifolia (American beech tree) and Fagus sylvatica (European beech) , is one of the most popular and impressive trees that inhabit American and European temperate and continental forests. It is one of the most important protagonists of the autumnal season, as its leaves are dyed red or orange depending on the variety.

This article is dedicated to the European beech tree, that is also grown in the United States as well.

With a height of 40 meters, it grows vertically if it is in groups, or it branches off at an early age if it is isolated. But how to grow them and to take care of them? 

FAGUS SYLVATICA LEAVES

Our protagonist is a deciduous tree native to Europe. In Germany it is found everywhere, but in Spain we can find it only in the extreme north of the Iberian Peninsula, and more isolated towards the center. As we said, it usually reaches a height of 40 meters, but the normal thing is that in culture it does not exceed 15 or 20 meters.

Its cup is formed by simple leaves , alternate if the specimen is young, green or purple, which change to yellow or bright red in autumn before falling. The branches may be slightly arched down, or be very arched touching the ground with some leaves depending on the subspecies or cultivate.

t is monoecious; that is, there are female feet and male feet . The female flowers come in groups of one to three, sometimes four, on a grayish-brown peduncle; and the masculine ones sprout in globose inflorescences. The fruit, with an open dome shape, contains one to three seeds, also called beechnuts.

It has a slow growth, but it is very long-lived . His motto seems to be: slow, but safe. In fact, his life expectancy is 300 years.

Varieties

There are several that are very interesting:

  • Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ : has purple leaves all season.
  • Fagus sylvatica ‘Albovariegata’ : the leaves are green, with yellow margins.
  • Fagus sylvatica ‘Fastigiata’ : has a columnar bearing, and rarely exceeds 20 meters high and 3m wide.
  • Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’ : weeping wearer. The branches are fallen, and it does not grow more than 25m.

Beach Tree Care

If you want to have a copy, we recommend providing the following care:

Weather

The beech in cultivation is a very resistant species. However, for it to develop properly, it needs temperate or continental climates that have cold winters , high humidity.

Location

The Fagus sylvatica has to be outside, in semi-shade. If it is grown in the Mediterranean, it is also important to be protected from the sea wind otherwise the leaves would spoil.

Due to its characteristics, it has to be planted at a minimum distance of 10 meters of pipes, paved floors, large plants, etc.

land

  • Garden : it needs that the earth does not have tendency to puddling (as it happens with the clayey one), fertile and acidic, with a pH between 4 and 6.
  • Flowerpot :
    • In temperate-cold climates: plant in substrate for acid plants or mulch.
    • In temperate-warm climates: plant in volcanic sand, such as akadama with 30% of Kiryuuzuna or similar.

Irrigation

It is a tree that does not support drought or waterlogging . During the summer it needs very frequent waterings, trying as much as possible to prevent the soil or substrate from drying out completely; the rest of the year, although it will be necessary to reduce the frequency of irrigation, it will have to be given a moderate irrigation.

To prevent the roots from rotting or drying out on the contrary, you can check the moisture of the soil before proceeding to pour water on it. To do this, it will be enough to introduce a thin wooden stick: if it is removed practically clean, it will have to be watered.

It is important to use rainwater, without lime or, failing that, acidified tap water ( here is information on how to lower the pH of the water).

EUROPEAN BIRCH TREE

Fertilizer

In addition to water, the beech tree needs ‘food’ to be perfectly healthy . If it is not fertilized accordingly, sooner or later it would become very vulnerable to insects that cause pests and to microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi) that cause diseases.

But of course, in the market we find a great variety of fertilizers . Which is the best for this plant? Well, anyone is fine if it is used correctly, although organics are certainly a safe bet because with them you will fertilize, not only the plant, but also the garden if you have it planted on the ground.

Another option is to use compound (chemical) fertilizers, like this one sold here for acidic plants, following the indications specified on the package.

Propagation

It reproduces quite easily by seeds , if they are fresh (freshly picked from the tree). If the winter is cold, they can be sown directly in the nursery and in the spring they will germinate; If this is not the case, to guarantee a higher percentage of germination, we will stratify them for two-three months in the refrigerator at about 6º, and in spring they will be planted in pots following this step by step:

  1. First, a tupperware is filled with vermiculite previously moistened.
  2. Then, the seeds are sown and covered with vermiculite (or buried a little with what is already).
  3. Afterwards, copper or sulfur is sprinkled. This will prevent fungi from damaging the seeds.
  4. The next step is to close the tupperware and put it in the fridge, in the section of sausages, milk, etc.
  5. Once a week for three months, you should remove the tupperware and open it to renew the air.
  6. In spring, the seedbed is filled, as trays or pots, with substrate for acid plants.
  7. Next, the seeds are placed on the surface and covered with a thin layer of substrate.
  8. Finally, the seedbed is watered and placed on the outside, in semi-shade.

They will germinate throughout the spring.

Time of planting or transplant

In spring, when the risk of frost has passed.

Resilience and Resistance

It resists frosts of up to -18ºC , but does not live in tropical climates. Its ideal temperature range is 30ºC maximum and -18ºC minimum.

Can it be grown in warm climates? My experience

We have said that it is not a tree for frost-free climates, but the truth is that with minimal care it can live well in the Mediterranean coast. In my area, the minimum temperature is -1.5ºC and the maximum is 38ºC, and although it is true that it grows slowly, there it is. Each year it gets more and more beautiful.

If you live in an area with a similar climate, I recommend that you plant it in akadama, that you water it a lot in summer and a little less in autumn-winter, and that you do not forget to pay for it throughout the growing season . In this way, take out leaves and it will become beautiful. Of course, it is likely that you can never plant it on the ground, but fortunately in nurseries we found huge pots up to 1 meter in diameter by almost the same depth ????.

Of course, a pot will never be the same as the soil, but … when you want to do this kind of experiments and they go well, in the end there is nothing left to plant them in containers, because the other option is to donate them to public botanical gardens.

Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ IN A POT, AND GROWING IN A WARMER CLIMATE THAN RECOMMENDED

What is the beech for?

Ornamental

It is a tree of great beauty that gives good shade as it grows. 

Food

Beechnuts are used as food for livestock.

Medicinal

  • Leaves : are used to treat colds, bronchitis, influenza, pharyngitis and stop diarrhea.
  • Creosote : obtained from the dry distillation of the branches, which is astringent, analgesic, antitussive, antipyretic and expectorant.
BEECH TREE IN WINTER IN THE NORTH OF SPAIN

It’s a pretty tree even in winter, do not you think? Can you imagine having one in your garden? It is not too demanding. Although, yes, it needs enough space to grow properly.

The beech is one of those trees that you can fall in love with just seeing them once.

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