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Copper Beech

Fagus sylvatica purpurea

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fagaceae (Beech)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 metres tall
Gardens, parks, towns, woodland.

Green, no petals
Male and female yellowish-green catkins grow together on the same tree. Male catkins dangle loosely from stalks at the end of twigs. Female catkins exist in pairs and are surrounded by a cup, later turning into beech nuts in autumn. Flowers only appear on mature trees.
The fruit of the Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea') consists of small beechnuts enclosed in a prickly husk. The beechnuts are usually small, brown, and triangular in shape. They are edible after processing but are not typically harvested for human consumption due to their small size. The nut's primary role is to serve as a means of reproduction for the tree.
The leaves of the Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea') are broad and elliptical in shape, with a smooth, wavy margin. They are typically deep purple or copper-colored, which is their distinctive feature, and they provide an eye-catching contrast to the typical green leaves of the European beech. The leaves are deciduous, meaning they fall from the tree in the autumn, and they can remain on the tree through the winter, creating a lasting visual appeal.
The aroma of Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea') leaves is often described as having a sweet and slightly earthy scent, with a hint of damp woodland and the freshness of a forest floor. This aroma is more prominent when the leaves are crushed or brushed against, releasing a pleasant and distinctive fragrance that is characteristic of many beech trees.
Other Names:
Purple Beech.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Fagus sylvatica purpurea, also known as purple beech or copper beech, is a cultivar of Fagus sylvatica, the European beech. It is a deciduous tree that is known for its reddish-purple leaves and dark purple-colored bark. The tree has a tall, slender trunk and a narrow, oval-shaped canopy. Its leaves are dark purple, oval-shaped, and have a smooth, glossy texture. In the fall, the leaves turn yellow or bronze before dropping off. Purple beech trees produce small, triangular nuts that are encased in a spiky husk. The nuts are an important food source for a variety of animals, including birds and small mammals. Purple beech is commonly used as a shade tree in parks and gardens, and its wood is used for a variety of purposes, including furniture, flooring, and firewood.


Copper beech, also known as Fagus sylvatica purpurea, is a type of European beech tree that is prized for its striking purple leaves and distinctive appearance. Native to Europe, the copper beech has been cultivated and grown as an ornamental tree for hundreds of years. In this blog, we will explore the unique features, growth habits, and care requirements of the copper beech.


The copper beech is easily recognizable by its deep purple leaves, which are glossy and smooth in appearance. In spring and summer, the leaves are a brilliant shade of purple that can range from a rich burgundy to a deep, dark red. As the seasons change, the leaves turn a warm, golden-brown color and hold their leaves until late into the winter. The tree also produces small, insignificant flowers that are not typically noticeable, but in the fall, the copper beech produces small, beechnuts.

Growth Habits:

The copper beech is a slow-growing tree that typically reaches a mature height of 50-70 feet, with a spread of 20-30 feet. It has a dense, pyramidal crown with a straight trunk and branches that are uniform in size and spread evenly around the tree. The copper beech is an excellent choice for lawns and large gardens, as it can provide shade and year-round interest with its striking foliage and shapely form.

Care Requirements:

The copper beech is a hardy tree that is relatively low maintenance, but it does require some specific care to thrive. The tree prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and should be watered regularly during its first few years to establish a strong root system. The tree is also relatively tolerant of air pollution and can grow in a variety of soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils.

The copper beech is also relatively pest and disease resistant, but it is important to monitor for signs of insect damage or disease, such as leaf spot, and address them promptly to ensure the health and longevity of the tree. Pruning should also be done on a regular basis to maintain the shape and structure of the tree.


The copper beech is a magnificent tree that is prized for its striking appearance and hardiness. With its deep purple leaves, distinctive shape, and low maintenance requirements, the copper beech is a perfect choice for homeowners and gardeners who are looking for a beautiful, year-round addition to their landscape. Whether grown as a focal point or as a specimen tree, the copper beech is sure to make a lasting impression in any garden or lawn.

In addition to its ornamental value, the copper beech also has a rich history and cultural significance. In Europe, the beech tree has long been associated with folklore and myth, and the copper beech has been a symbol of wealth and status for centuries. The tree was often planted in the grounds of grand estates and stately homes, and its unique purple leaves were considered a sign of luxury and sophistication.

The wood of the copper beech is also highly prized, and is known for its strength, durability, and attractive grain. It is often used in the construction of furniture, flooring, and other wood products, as well as in the manufacture of paper, charcoal, and other products.

One of the most important things to consider when planting a copper beech is the location. The tree requires full sun or partial shade, and it thrives in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. It is important to choose a location that provides enough space for the tree to grow to its full size, as well as to allow for proper air circulation and sunlight. When planting a copper beech, it is also important to consider the tree's mature height and spread, as well as the proximity to buildings, power lines, and other trees.

Another important factor to consider when planting a copper beech is the size of the tree. The tree is available in a range of sizes, from small saplings to mature specimens, and it is important to choose the right size for your location. Small saplings are ideal for planting in small gardens or yards, while larger specimens are perfect for creating a focal point in a large lawn or park.

Finally, it is important to consider the cost of planting a copper beech. The tree is a relatively expensive investment, but it is worth it for its beauty and long lifespan. When purchasing a copper beech, it is important to choose a reputable supplier and to look for a tree that is healthy, well-rooted, and free from disease or pests.

In conclusion, the copper beech is a magnificent tree that is well worth the investment. With its striking appearance, rich history, and cultural significance, the copper beech is a must-have for any gardener or homeowner who is looking to add a touch of elegance and style to their landscape. So, why not consider planting a copper beech today, and start enjoying its beauty for years to come!

30 Facts About the Copper Beech

Here are 30 facts about Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea'), a beautiful tree known for its striking copper-colored leaves:

  1. The Copper Beech is a cultivar of the European beech tree (Fagus sylvatica).

  2. It is renowned for its deep purple or copper-colored leaves.

  3. The leaves of the Copper Beech typically emerge green in spring and turn copper or purple in the summer.

  4. This tree is a deciduous species, shedding its leaves in the fall.

  5. Copper Beech trees are commonly used as ornamental trees in parks, gardens, and landscapes.

  6. They are native to Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom.

  7. The Copper Beech can grow to be quite large, reaching heights of 50-80 feet (15-24 meters).

  8. The tree has a wide, spreading canopy, providing ample shade in the summer.

  9. It is known for its slow growth rate, making it a long-lived tree.

  10. Copper Beeches produce small, inconspicuous flowers in the spring.

  11. The fruit of the tree is a small beechnut, enclosed in a prickly husk.

  12. Copper Beech leaves can remain on the tree through the winter, providing some color even in colder months.

  13. This tree is a favorite among photographers and artists due to its striking color.

  14. It is often used as a focal point in landscaping and provides an attractive contrast to green-leaved trees.

  15. Copper Beech wood is dense and strong, making it valuable for furniture and woodworking.

  16. The leaves of the Copper Beech can be used as mulch or in composting.

  17. The Latin name "sylvatica" means "of the woods" or "woodland."

  18. Copper Beeches are known for their tolerance of urban environments and pollution.

  19. They are low-maintenance trees, requiring minimal care once established.

  20. The bark of the Copper Beech is smooth and gray when young, but it becomes rough and furrowed with age.

  21. The tree is appreciated for its wind-resistant qualities.

  22. Copper Beech trees can live for several centuries, with some specimens exceeding 300 years in age.

  23. Copper Beeches are popular choices for formal gardens and avenues.

  24. The tree's striking color provides a dramatic backdrop for other plants and flowers.

  25. The wood of the Copper Beech is used in the production of tool handles and wooden toys.

  26. In some cultures, beech trees are considered symbols of wisdom and longevity.

  27. Copper Beeches are important for wildlife, providing food for birds and small mammals.

  28. The tree's deep root system helps prevent soil erosion.

  29. Copper Beech leaves were historically used in herbal medicine for their astringent properties.

  30. These trees are a symbol of elegance and natural beauty in many parts of the world, often featured in literature and art.

These facts showcase the unique and captivating features of the Copper Beech tree.


Copper Beech filmed at Duxbury in Lancashire on the 11th July 2023.


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