This month we feature the Weeping Beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’ that is much loved by many residents.
This wonderful tree grows close to the Promenade between Parking Lots 8 and 9, on the farm field side. It is a beautiful, weeping cultivar of the deciduous European Beech, with sweeping, pendulous branches that reach the ground. These trees may grow 30–50 feet tall with a 30–50 foot spread, and may live for 150 to 200 years.
The grey bark is very smooth, thin and typical of the beeches on which young lovers often carve their initials. The leaves are bright green on new growth and age to a copper-toned color in the fall. They are 2–4 inches long, un-lobed, with toothed or wavy edges. Weeping Beeches are monoecious, that is both male and female flowers appear separately on the same tree in the spring with the emerging leaves. Male flowers have rounded heads hanging from a slender stalk and female flowers are borne in shorter spikes. The 1-inch fruit is a woody, spiny husk that occurs singly or in pairs. The 1–3 enclosed nuts (or mast) are triangular, shiny brown and nutritious. Ecologically, beech nuts, or mast, provide valuable food for many animals and birds and were important for people in colonial times.
An interesting fact in the arboretum tree walk notes that historians claim that the first written European literature was inscribed on beech bark in Sanskrit, and the English word “book” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “boc,” a derivative of “beece” or beech
Martin Wells and Judy Czeiner, Photographer