European Beech

Botanical Name: Fagus sylvatica

The European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a beautiful and majestic, medium sized deciduous tree. It has a strong trunk with branches that are upright and spreading. The canopy shape is rounded or oval. When planted as a solitary tree, the European Beech can develop branches that swoop down towards the ground. Specimens can live up to 250 years. 

This tree grows to a height of 50-60 feet and a width of 35-50 feet. It is native to the forests and woodlands of central and southern Europe.

The European Beech tree has attractive, smooth gray bark similar to that of the American Beech tree (Fagus grandifolia). Its small flowers are white with a tinge of green. They emerge in mid or late spring. The male flowers hang down in clusters. The female flowers are upright and displayed on short panicles. The beech nut is only produced by older, mature trees.  They are triangular shaped, dark brown, and 2 inches in length. These seeds ripen in the fall and are found clustered in groups of 2 to 4, covered by a spiky covering to protect them. Beech nuts are edible and attract wildlife.

The leaves of the European Beech are smaller than the American Beech. They are a shiny dark green, elliptical or ovate in shape, and 4 inches long. The margins are almost entire and wavy, with noticeable parallel venation. The foliage is spectacular in the fall, turning a golden copper or reddish bronze color. Fagus sylvatica also brings interest to winter gardens with its dark gray silhouette.

This beech tree dislikes being transplanted. No serious disease or insect problems. Tolerant of deer.


Height: 50-60 ft.

Width: 35-50 ft.

Shape: Oval/Rounded

Flower Color: Yellowish-green

Flowering Time: April-May

Fall Color: Golden copper, reddish bronze

Features: Dense shade, attractive fall color, holds onto leaves late into the fall/winter

Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

Watering: Moderate & Regular

Soil: Prefers deep, rich, moist and well-drained soils. Intolerant of wet, heavy soils.

Growth Rate: Moderate

USDA Zones: 4-7

Uses: Lawn tree, shade tree, park tree, larger woodland landscapes, wildlife landscapes

Similar trees: Fagus grandifolia (American Beech Tree), Fagus sylvatica 'Rivers Purple' (River’s Purple Beech)