Copper Beech Trees

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Copper Beech Trees

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Copper beech trees, also known as purple beech, are a cultivar of common beech.

Scientific name: Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea Family: Fagaceae

UK provenance: non-native

Copper beech trees appeared as natural mutants of the common beech in various parts of Europe, as early as the 15th century.

Copper beech trees grow to a height of more than 40m. The bark is smooth, thin and grey, often with slight horizontal etchings. Copper beech tree twigs are slender and grey but not straight – their shape resembles a zig-zag. Torpedo-shaped leaf buds are coppery and up to 2cm in length, with a distinctive criss-cross pattern.

Leaves: coppery to deep purple in colour, oval and fringed with silky brown hairs.

Flowers: monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers grow on the same tree. In April and May the copper beech’s tassel-like male catkins hang from long stalks at the end of twigs, while female flowers grow in pairs, surrounded by a cup.

Fruits: once wind pollinated, this cup becomes woody and encloses one or two reddish brown beech nuts (known as beechmast).

Look out for: the red to purple leaves of the copper beech mark a clear difference from the common beech.

Grow copper beech trees in areas of the home garden that offer full sun when possible, though beeches grow successfully in partial shade. Plant in full sun for the very best colour. Maintain loose, moist, well-drained soil; the copper beech has a moderate tolerance to dry conditions. It is not quite as big as green beech and grows more slowly, but it is still only suitable for a large garden.

For additional information on Copper Beech tree plants please see our page on planting tips, pruning and after care advice or call us on 01798 831008, or email us at