Tri Color Beech - Fagus Sylvatica

Fagus sylvatica - Tri Color Birch Tree leaf photos
The Greenery Nursery/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0

Tri-color beech is a striking tree that you won't soon forget. It is often used as a specimen tree due to its variegated leaves that may come in many shades of green, pink, and white. They later turn copper in the fall.

  • Latin name: Fagus sylvatica 'Roseo-Marginata' (also may be listed under 'Tricolor' and 'Purpurea Tricolor')
  • Common Names: Tri-color beech, tri-colored European beech, Roseomarginata European beech
  • USDA Hardiness ZonesZones 4 to 7
  • Size & Shape of Tri-Color Beech: Tri-color beech slowly grows to 24' to 40' tall and 30' wide (though it is often smaller). The form is a broad, rounded pyramid.
  • Exposure: Plant tri-color beech in part shade. Young trees are able to tolerate full shade. May be planted in full sun, but the foliage will sometimes burn in hot sun.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit of Tri-Color Beech

Leaves are variegated and come in many variations of green, pink, and white. They turn copper in the fall. Leaves are wavy, oval, 4" long and 2" wide. Tri-color beech has both male and female flowers on the same tree. They usually appear April-May and are not very showy. Seeds are small tri-cornered nuts, commonly known as beechnuts.

Harvesting and Eating Beechnuts

Forest animals and human foragers alike are fond of beechnuts, which typically are harvested on the ground shortly after they fall from the tree. The triangular nuts turn a shiny brown color when ripe. Harvesting is typically done in October in many regions of the U.S. Due to competition (with wildlife) for the small but flavorful nuts, it's best to harvest early in the morning, preferably after a spell of wind has helped drop the nuts. Be careful: beechnuts are mildly toxic, so do not eat too many of them at once. The European beechnuts are bitter, unlike the sweet American beechnuts.

Design Tips For Tri-Color Beech

This tree is very slow-growing, so keep that in mind when designing your garden. It is perfect for use as a specimen tree, or a shade tree if given enough time to grow. Grass and other plants will not grow well under the tri-color beech, due to its fibrous root system.

Growing Tips For Tri-Color Beech

This species prefers well-drained, moist, and slightly acidic soil, though it is quite tolerant of a wide range of soils. It does not do well in waterlogged soils. Take extra care if planting in the fall, as tri-color beech is more sensitive to being transplanted at that time. Since it grows slowly, water regularly for the first 2 years to establish the root system. Keep in mind that tri-color beech is intolerant of salt in soil or water. Propagate the tree through grafting.

Maintenance/Pruning

Tri-color beech can be planted close and pruned to become a hedge, as it tolerates pruning well. However, do not prune until it has become established, which can take 1 to 2 years.

Pests & Diseases of Tri-Color Beech

The leaves are prone to scorching if they are not sheltered from the hot sun or dry winds. Some caterpillars feed on beech leaves. Aphids will cause sticky, dripping honeydew. Diseases include canker, powdery mildew, and beech blight. Beech scale can be a problem occasionally.