25. Copper Beech

(Fagus sylvatixa f. purpurea)

Other Common Names: European Beech, Common Beech

Family: Fagaceae

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Color is the operative word for this tree. In this specimen, on the HUB lawn near Thompson Hall, the leaves are copper colored instead of the normal green.  Copper beech is a gigantic shade tree that produces tiny nuts and is a frequently planted ornamental because of its beauty.  Silvery, smooth bark on the trunk distinguishes beeches even in winter. The blunt leaves are shaped like an egg. Next to the Art building (near the Cedar of Lebanon) is a dark purple variant.


Beeches here are not valued for their nuts, since most of them are hollow, and squirrels eat most that are not. However, oil made from the nuts is said to be equal in delicacy to olive oil. Consumed in excess, the seeds can be poisonous.  The wood of beech is less useful than that of its oak relatives because it is often attacked by beetles and it not durable enough for use outdoors. The leaf buds harvested in the winter and dried on the twigs can be used as toothpicks.

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