The copper beech tree (Fagus sylvatica), more commonly known as the European beech tree, creates a larger-than-life visual impact in home landscapes, parks and communities. SavATree Commercial and Consulting Arborist Jean Zimmerman recently shared a personal experience which closely explains that “visual impact” quite well.
“When I was growing up, we gathered beneath “The Elephant Tree,” which stood on the overgrown lawn of an abandoned mansion,” said Zimmerman. “The massive local landmark, with its knob-kneed trunk resembling the legs of its namesake animal, offered a self-contained world. From the outside, long branches twisted fluidly from the crown to the ground – spreading outward like the spokes of an umbrella. Inside this protected space, we found a ghostly light and branches that were perfect for climbing.”
The copper beech tree is not native to North American shores, but instead introduced by the early settlers coming over from Europe. Its primary use was as an ornamental shade tree.
In fact, one notable copper beech was said to be on the property of Abraham Lincoln’s cottage in Washington. Some said he often found solace and tranquility under the shade of the tree’s branches while dealing with the pressures of the Civil War.
During the heart of the growing season, one might be confused by the tree’s appearance as leaves are often reddish purple in the spring to blackish purple by the summer – far from the copper color found in its name. But come the fall, the leaves often turn a showy copper hue more befitting of its name.
“The towering, always impressive copper beech tops out at a full 70 feet tall. The beech shares the characteristics of the species but with distinct foliage color. While not a street tree, copper beech takes its place among landmarked gardens and properties that are part of the urban landscape around them,” says Zimmerman.
While often immune to most pests and diseases, poor drainage and soil conditions can cause copper beech trees to fall victim to fungal diseases such as leaf spot, cankers and powdery mildew. More mysteriously, Zimmerman has seen a new crop of diseases infiltrating the armor of copper trees.
“A mysterious ailment known as Beech Leaf Disease has begun to prey on the tree. The damage starts with a dark staining of the leaves and leads to their shriveling and eventual tree death; so far it has been recorded in Ohio, Pennsylvania and parts of Ontario, Canada. Another affliction, Beech Bark Disease, which is caused by a sap-feeding scale and a fungus, has already killed 2.5 million beech trees.”
As with any tree on your property, a proper Plant Health Care Plan, as well as regular visits from a Certified Arborist, will give your tree the best shot at optimal health and longevity.
For more on Plant Health Care Plans, contact SavATree today.