Botanical Name: Fagus sylvatica
Common Name: European Beech
Origin: Central Europe
Notable Feature: The European beech has been described by many experts as the finest specimen tree available. Give it plenty of space and it will provide you with year-round beauty: shimmering green leaves unfurling in the spring, dense shade in the summer, striking autumn foliage, and a pleasing winter silhouette.
Habit: Densely pyramidal to oval or rounded; very formal in outline with a stocky trunk. A deciduous tree that will grow 50 to 60 feet high with a spread of 35 to 45 feet. Bark is smooth, thin, and dark bluish grey in color; it remains smooth even on the largest of stems and is reminiscent of elephant hide.
Flower: Species is monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers grow separately on the same tree, and appear in April and May. The tassel-like male catkins hang from long stalks at the end of twigs, while female flowers grow in pairs, surrounded by a cup. Flowers are small and inconspicuous and appear just after leaf emergence in spring.
Fruit: Triangular nuts. Usually two nuts enclosed in a hard, woody, four-lobed husk covered with spines. Husk is 1” long and borne singly on an erect pedicel (stem). Matures in fall.
Foliage: Lustrous dark green in summer followed by russet and golden bronze colors in fall. Leaves slow to emerge and do not fully develop until sometime in May. The alternate, simple, elliptical leaves are 2 to 4” long, with smooth to slightly toothed, wavy margins.
Interesting Fact: The town of Brookline, MA has the oldest as well as the largest grove of European beech trees in the United States. The 2.5 acre public park, called 'The Longwood Mall', was created by wealthy businessman, David Sears around 1850. It was planted with some 14,000 trees, a majority of which were European beech. When the town took possession of the park in 1925, it cut down the other trees to give more room to the beech trees. In 1983, the Friends of the Longwood Mall established a fund for long-term maintenance for these trees.