Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea Tricolor'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 3 Professionals
Common Name: European beech
Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow-green
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer


Best grown in deep, rich, moist but well-drained soils in part shade. Plants do not perform well in the heat and humidity of the deep South. Variegated foliage may scorch in hot afternoon sun in the St. Louis area where sundappled conditions with some afternoon shade may be best. Intolerant of wet, poorly drained soils. Difficult to transplant. Plants do not always grow well in urban settings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

European beech is a large deciduous tree typically growing to 50-60’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a dense, upright-oval to rounded-spreading crown. It is native to woodlands in central and southern Europe. European colonists brought this tree to America in the mid-1700s and it has been a popular ornamental shade tree since that time. ‘Purpurea Tricolor’ is an extremely attractive, smaller form featuring tricolor variegation. It typically grows to 30’ tall and from a distance projects a rose foliage color in spring. The variegation is actually a bit more complicated. Foliage typically emerges in spring as purple with pink margins, changes to dark bronze-green with pale pink (later white) margins in summer and finally turns bronze-gold in fall. Leaves (to 4” long) have prominent parallel veins. Monoecious yellowish green flowers bloom in April-May but are not showy. Nomenclature on this beech cultivar is a bit confusing. ‘Purpurea Tricolor’ is the preferred name and is synonymous with ‘Roseomarginata’. The old French cultivar called ‘Tricolor’ (green leaves edged with pink changing to white) is extremely rare and may no longer be circulating to any extent in commerce in the U. S. Many plants sold today as ‘Tricolor’ may in fact be ‘Purpurea Tricolor’ (Royal Horticultural Society Plant Finder lists: ‘Tricolor’ misapplied see F. sylvatica ‘Purpurea Tricolor’).


No serious insect or disease problems. Beech scale is an occasional problem. Watch for Japanese beetles. Stressed trees may be attacked by borers. Foliage may scorch in too much sun.

Garden Uses

Purple-leaved specimen or accent for areas around the home.