Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Tricolor’

tricolor European beech

  • © J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

  • © J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

Synonyms: Fagus sylvatica ‘Roseomarginata’

Outstanding Qualities

Often labeled as Fagus sylvatica 'Roseomarginata' this the same cultivar as F. sylvatica 'Purpurea Tricolor'. By whichever name the foliage of this beech has exceptionally unique variegation. When the leaves emerge in springtime the dark purple leaves are edged in pink or rose. The purple centers turn more bronze green with pale pink or white edges as summer progresses, ultimately turning bronze gold in autumn. This cultivar matures to a smaller stature – 30 to 40 feet (9 – 12m) tall – than the typical wild European beech which can reach 100 feet (30m) tall, more or less.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 20 ft. 0 in. (6.10 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 15 ft. 0 in. (4.57 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 40 ft. 0 in. (12.19 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 30 ft. 0 in. (9.14 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 8

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun (with regular water) or light shade

Water Requirements: regular or occasional watering

Seasonal Interest: extraordinary colorful spring & summer foliage

Culture Notes
In shade, once established, it only needs occasional watering during prolonged dry periods; however, water regularly in the summer when planted in full sun, otherwise the foliage may burn. This European beech can tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions from sand to clay as long as the drainage is adequate. In shade, once established, it only needs occasional watering during prolonged dry periods. Water regularly in the summer when planted in full sun, otherwise the foliage may burn. It is a handsome specimen and should be provided enough space to fully develop. It rarely needs pruning to maintain its naturally graceful and majestic form and the thin, delicate bark can be easily injured. For these reasons, consult an experienced pruner or arborist before attempting to prune. Woolly aphids can be a minor problem, but sprays are not required since they do not jeopardize the tree’s vigor or health. Avoid planting near driveways or patios where the sticky “honeydew” from the aphids can create sticky surfaces.
Geek Notes
Horticulturists in both France and Holland became aware of this unique cultivar at about the same time. First exhibited in 1885 by P. & E. Transon Nursery, Orleans, France. According to W. J. Bean in Volume II of Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles, "A similar or perhaps identical beech was exhibited by Messrs Cripps in 1888 as F. s. roseomarginata and was awarded a First Class Certificate." Hence, this cultivar has been sold in the trade under both names ever since: ‘Purpurea Tricolor’ and ‘Roseomarginata’. Now they are considered one and the same. To add to the nomenclatural confusion, although less so as it is most likely very rarely sold in the United States, is a form called 'Tricolor'. Tradition states that 'Tricolor' originated in 1873 in France with leaf variegation that is white with green spots and a rose-colored margin.