A spectacular tree with broad pyramidal canopy, copper beech is a wonderful addition to any landscaping project. Though it is a flowering plant, it is exclusively planted for the leaves that turn vibrant in fall. In fact, the common name copper beech tree is coined with reference to colorful fall foliage color, whose reddish bronze shade resembles copper. Indigenous to Central Europe, today this deciduous tree has gained popularity as a common ornamental tree in Europe and the United States.
Copper beech tree, scientific name Fagus sylvatica, shares the taxonomic family Fagaceae with other deciduous and evergreen trees, like oak and chestnut. It is also known as European beech and purple beech tree. There are several varieties, which are planted for their aesthetic value. The most popular species is weeping copper beech tree (F. sylvatica 'Pendula'), characterized by its pendulous twigs that touch the ground.
How to Identify it?
It can be identified by studying its bark, leaves, flowers, and fruits. The bark is smooth textured and perfect gray in color, just like elephant hide. During summer or the active growth season, its leaves are dark green in color, mixed with red tints. Its flowers are monoecious and are developed in spring, right after the development of new leaves. Its nuts are triangular, with each four lobed involucre enclosing two nuts inside.
Examine a twig of copper beech having leaves on it. You will find that the individual foliage of this flowering plant is simple, sparsely toothed (or wavy margin), and borne in alternate phyllotaxy. The leaves are about 2 inches wide and 2-4 inches in length. Also, study the prominent leaf veins that run in pairs. In autumn, the leaves change their color to reddish brown. This colorful foliage is retained throughout the winter.
The growth rate of copper beech tree is somewhat slow to medium, based on the prevailing climate and soil conditions. At maturity, the maximum height is recorded to be 60 feet. Its spread is nearly similar to its height, about 50 feet. It is an excellent specimen tree for private gardens and public parks as well.
How to grow it?
Less tolerant to waterlogged soil, this tree is suitable for planting in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 7. The ideal growing site is an area that receives full sun. Also, you will need to prepare garden soil, such that it is well-drained, moist, and slightly acidic. Transplantation of sapling should be done during the dormant season. A sapling about 1.5-2 m tall may cost from USD 25 to about USD 60 and more.
Problems associated with it
These trees are pruned in early fall, or in early summer. When exposed to stressful conditions, they become susceptible to some common plant problems. The most frequently occurring diseases are canker disease, powdery mildew, and beech bark disease. If required, apply fungicide in correct dose to contain disease and prevent further spreading.
In order to maintain them in your yard, make sure you provide them with growth requirements correctly. As with any gardening project, growing copper beech requires patience and some effort from your side. The blooming period lasts from April through May. Many avid gardeners maintain this short trunk as hedge by adopting repeated pruning practices and also as bonsai tree.