Weeping European Beech – July 2012 Tree of the Month

John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

by Ann Farnham, LLA

The beautiful Weeping European Beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘’Pendula has been selected as the Ewing Tree of the Month by the Ewing Township Environmental Commission. This deciduous tree, located at a private residence on Twining Lane, is native to Central Europe and was introduced to this country in colonial times.  In the United States it is hardy from USDA Zones 4 though 7. Ewing is in Zone 6.

Weeping European Beech grows slowly and can reach 100 feet in height in favorable sites. It prefers a sunny exposure, well-drained soil and moderate fertility. It does not tolerate industrial pollution or street salts.

The branches are sweeping and pendulous, reaching the ground, and this, in addition to its shallow root system, produces a cavernous and dark interior in which lawn grass and other plants cannot survive.

The beech nuts, small hairy triangles which are sometimes not produced until a tree is 30 years old, provide food for squirrels and large birds. The tannic acid in the nuts is said to be somewhat toxic in large quantities to humans.

The leaf buds are long and pointy and the bark is grey and wrinkled. Beech trees hold on to their leaves in the fall and often do not drop them until spring. There are few insects and diseases which affect this tree.

Weeping European Beech is popular as a large ornamental tree for parks, estates, and public areas; it is considered the most picturesque of all weeping trees. It is somewhat smaller then the native American Beech, Fagus grandifolia, but it is more tolerant of non-woodland settings.

The wood of all beeches is popular for woodworking, furniture and flooring, being extremely hard with an attractive grain. The Weeping European Beech is only one of more than 42 varieties of European Beech available commercially.

The Bayard-Cutting Arboretum State Park in Great River, Long Island has a stunning Weeping European Beech which was planted in 1875. There is an opening through which people can walk onto a raised wooden boardwalk which encircles the main trunk of the tree within the dark and hollow interior.