In addition to growth, the beech leaf is a defining feature of deciduous trees. However, there are few common characteristics between the beech varieties. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the beech leaf.

Book (Fagus)

Beeches are a genus of plants in the beech family (Fagaceae). The genus Fagus includes about eleven species. The false beech and the hornbeam do not belong to this plant genus. They are assigned to the beech and birch family.


Of the Fagus species, only the common beech (Fagus sylvatica) and its natural mutation (shape, variety), the copper beech (Fagus sylvatica f. Purpurea) are native to this country. Numerous bred varieties of both are also commercially available.

Hanging and Süntel beech

The hanging and Süntel beech are varieties of the common beech (Fagus sylvatica f. pendula or Fagus sylvatica var. Suentelensis or var. Tortuosa), whereby the crooked growing Süntelbuche is of natural origin and the hanging beech is a breeding development of the natural pendula form (weeping form) represents.

Crossings with the copper beech have resulted in other beeches, such as:

  • Red Weeping Beech (Fagus sylvatica cv. “Pendula Purpurea”)
  • Blood Süntel Beech (Fagus sylvatica cv. “Tortuosa Purpurea”)

Orient and American beech

The oriental beech (Fagus orientalis) is often referred to as a native species because it can be found in many parks. However, their main distribution area is eastern Greece, Bulgaria and neighboring regions. The American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is less common in parks. As the name suggests, it comes from North America.

Beech leaf characteristics

Due to the diversity of beeches, there are few common characteristics:

  • Arrangement: alternate helical (at a fixed angle to each other, but neither 90 degrees nor 180 degrees) and/or more or less bilinear (opposite at an angle of 180 degrees)
  • Division into petiole and leaf blade
  • autumn coloring

Native beeches

Rotbuche (Art)

The common beech is the typical representative of the Fagus genus.

  • Leaf color: dark green (upper side), lighter underside
  • leaf-blade: ovate with a tip
  • Length: 7 to 10 centimeters
  • Width: up to 5 centimeters
  • Leaf base (blade base): partly asymmetrical, wedge-shaped (side edges with an acute angle to the midrib) to rounded, heart-shaped or oblique
  • Leaf margin: wavy with sharp incisions (notched) or toothed, ciliated (short hairs on the leaf margin)
  • Leaf surface: glossy
  • Underside of leaf: loose to dense hairs
  • 6 to 7 pairs of nerves
  • petiole: one to 1.5 centimeters long, hairy
  • Autumn colour: from pale yellow through orange-red to reddish-brown
  • Young leaves: fresh green to pale, silky hairy
Note: The dried leaves of the common beech often remain on the branches over the winter.

European beech (varieties)

Red beech varieties with different leaves to the original species are, for example:

  • Farnblättrige Buche (Fagus sylvatica “Asplenifolia”)
  • Split-leaved beech (Fagus sylvatica “Lacinata”)
  • Oak leaf beech (Fagus sylvatica “Quercifolia”)
  • Round-leaved beech (Fagus sylvatica “Rotundifolia”)
  • Broad-leaved beech (Fagus sylvatica “Latifolia”)
  • Golden beech “Zlatia” (Fagus sylvatica “Zlatia”: yellow-green with golden-yellow leaf shoots
  • Yellow-colored beech (Fagus sylvatica “Bicoloe Sartinii”): fresh green with golden-yellow leaf edges
  • Dwarf beech “Mercedes” (Fagus sylvatica “Mercedes”): light green, narrow-lanceolate
  • Zwergbuche „Asiterix“ (Fagus sylvatica „Asterix“): hellgrün

copper beech (form of the common beech)

In addition to the main difference to the common beech, the leaf color, there are only minimal differences to the common beech leaf:

  • Leaf color: dark red (turning green during the growing season)
  • leaf-blade: ovate, acuminate
  • Leaf margin: wavy, slightly toothed
  • Autumn colour: orange to red
  • Leaf shoots: dark red
Note: In autumn, the leaves of the copper beech are difficult to recognize due to the extremely similar coloring to the common beech.

Copper beech (selection of varieties)

Bred blood beeches that show more or less differences to the original form are:

  • “Atropunicea”: light to dark red, red-brown autumn colour
  • ‘Dawyck Purple’ (columnar): brown-red, yellow-brown autumn colours
  • “Riversii”: black-red, yellow-brown autumn colour
  • “Roseomarginata”: dark red with pink leaf margins

Beeches with special growth

Hanging and Süntelbuche

The leaves of the Süntel beech correspond to those of the common beech. However, the variations in size and shape are more diverse. The leaves of the hanging beech also largely resemble red beech leaves. The differences relate to the leaf blade (broadly elliptical to oval) and the number of nerve pairs (5 to 9).

Breeds that do not have green leaves have names such as:

  • “Purple Fountain”: reddish brown
  • “Purpurea Pendula”: deep black-red
  • „Rohan Weeping“: braunrot, grobgesägt
  • “Tortuosa Purpurea”: ​​bronzerot

Book of other origin

American beech

  • Leaf color: blue-green (upper side), lighter underside
  • leaf-blade: elongate-ovate, acuminate
  • Length: 5 to 12 centimeters
  • Width: 2.5 to 7.5 centimeters
  • Leaf base (blade base): broadly wedge-shaped to slightly heart-shaped, often asymmetrical
  • leaf margin: toothed
  • Leaf surface: glossy
  • Underside of leaf: hairs on the midrib and in the axils of the lateral veins, rarely glabrous
  • 9 to 15 pairs of nerves
  • Petiole: 0.3 to 0.8 centimeters
  • Autumn colour: golden yellow to leather brown

Orient beech

  • Leaf color: light green
  • leaf-blade: ovate, lanceolate or reverse ovate, acuminate
  • Length: 6 to 12 centimeters
  • Autumn colour: yellow

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