Tricolor European Beech

Fagus Sylvatica ‘Tricolor’ (‘Roseo-Marginata’)

Description & Overview

The Tricolor European Beech is a beautiful tree perfect for use as an ornamental tree in a front or backyard. This Beech is known for its vibrant pink, white and purple leaves which turn a golden bronze color in the fall. If planted in the right place, the Tricolor Beech is a relatively low-maintenance tree.


Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: No – Introduced
Mature Height: 20-30 feet
Mature Spread: 10-20 feet
Growth Rate: Very Slow
Growth Form: Oval
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Site Requirements: Intolerant of Wet, Poorly Drained Soil, Intolerant of Dry, Windy Climate, Intolerant of Pollution
Flower: Insignificant, Catkins
Bloom Period: Spring, April-May
Foliage: Pink, Dark Purple with Pink and White Margins
Fall Color: Golden Bronze
Fruit Notes: Nuts

Suggested Uses:

The Tricolor European Beech makes for a great accent tree for anyone looking for a vibrant pop of color. Their wavy, bright pink, and deep purple leaves are eye-catching and make a great statement tree. While they don’t get as large as their American Beech cousins, they can get large enough to act as a decent shade tree, although their leaves aren’t as dense.

Wildlife Value:

Animals of all kinds like raccoons, squirrels, deer, rabbits, and others enjoy the nuts produced by Beeches which ripen between September and November. They can be eaten by humans, though they are slightly toxic if too many are eaten at once, so roasting is advised both to improve the flavor and eliminate the toxin.

Maintenance Tips:

Tricolor Beeches prefer slightly acidic, moist, well-drained soil. They are intolerant of wet, poorly-drained soil, though they are more tolerant of a wider variety of soils than their American Beech cousins. The Tricolor is difficult to transplant if freshly dug. If it is dug and stabilized for a time, it transplants much better. It also doesn’t do well in areas with pollution. Keeping them in an area with partial shade is advised due to the possibility of the foliage scorch. They are more susceptible to foliage scorch when they are young, once they are more mature, they can tolerate more sun, making them a decent shade tree. Generally, the tree is a low-maintenance plant. It doesn’t require special care if sited correctly, giving it some amount of shade during the day and avoiding harsh winds in the winter.

Pests/Problems:

The Tricolor Beech doesn’t suffer from any serious diseases or insects. Borer insects, Japanese Beetles, aphids, and caterpillars may attack distressed trees, though these afflictions rarely cause death. Additionally, Beech bark disease, canker, or powdery mildew may occur. These don’t typically affect the overall health of the tree.

Leaf Lore:

The name ‘Tricolor’ applies to multiple cultivars of the European Beech. The original ‘Tricolor’, reportedly from France in 1873, was described as having white leaves with green spots and pink on the edges of the leaf. Today, F. sylvatica ‘Purpurea Tricolor’ and ‘Roseo-marginata’ are synonymous by the Royal Horticultural Society in the United Kingdom. You can find the oldest living Tricolor European Beeches in the United States at the Longwood Mall in Brookline, Massachusetts. They were planted near Boston before the Civil War.

Companion Plants:

Placing a Tricolor Beech in a central or prominent area will attract attention from across your yard. While they may provide enough color and flair alone, some plants can provide further accent colors. Orange-flowering plants such as the Flower Carpet Amber Rose, Sea Breeze Geum, and Coral Charm Peony contrast nicely with the pink leaves of the Beech. Plants with white flowers like the Visions in White Astilbe, Montrose White Calamint Savory, and Hostas with variegated leaves will also create a beautiful combination. If one wanted to match the pink leaves of the Tricolor, Autumn Joy Sedum would be a great choice.




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