Today, I am, going to recommend you consider an odd specimen tree, the Purple fountain beech. Yeah even though it’s not a native tree and I have bad mouthed Purple leaf Japanese maples in a past post. I made the argument that green leaf Japanese maples fit into landscapes better than their purple leafed cousins. I also gave some suggested green leaf varieties.
I am going to flip my opinion when talking about another one of my favorite trees, the European beech (Fagus sylvatica). Yes, there are great green leaf beech trees such as Fernleaf Beech. But it seems most all the green leaf beech get BIG. I mean REALLY BIG. They also grow really wide.
I think that the best beech trees for most yards are two purple leafed and SMALLER varieties. These are the Purple Fountain beech and the Tri Color beech.
So you DO like purple leaf trees?
Well sure, especially these beeches. I like them so much in fact that they I planted one as a memorial tree for my brother David after he passed away from a long battle with cancer. The other I planted as a five year anniversary gift to my wife.
They are both undeniable specimen trees that have lots of visual impact. Both of these trees are much smaller than their big brothers.
Purple Fountain Beech as exclamation point
The purple fountain beech grows upright and stays so narrow that it fits where you would never expect to fit a beech tree. But make no mistake this is not a shade tree.
This tree screams specimen plant. It works great in an island bed or near the corner of a house. It is very upright and narrow growing, with cascading branches and deep purple foliage. It’s a tree whose leader grows straight up and all the other branches hang down.
The size of the purple fountain beech vary with age, but a tree about 15 feet high by 5 feet wide is about the size most of the larger ones I see are. It will get bigger, perhaps 20-30 feet high and 10-15 feet wide eventually.
It has great purplish black leaf color that stands out and demands attention. It holds it’s purple color in full sun throughout the season as shown by this big specimen at the Chicago Botanic Garden in late October. It does normally get a bronze fall color late in the season that is pretty classy but understated.
It does sometimes hold it leaves in the winter and their dried tan color actually provides some nice winter interest.
The smooth gray elephant hide like bark gets better every year as it trunk grows in size.
Hardiness Zones: Zone 4
Exposure: Sun to Light Shade
Features: Deep purple foliage color, Ornamental Bark, Slow Growing, upright form, Weeping Branches, Slow growing.
Growth Habit: Upright with weeping branches
Fall Color: Rich Bronze
Next post I will cover the Tricolor Beech and cover some beech care and growing tips that apply to that tree and the purple fountain beech.