The beech (fagus) genus contains ten species of deciduous trees native to temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.
The most distinctive feature is the fruit, which are small, triangular nuts. Pairs of nuts are contained in soft-spined husks known as beechmast.
Here are a few of the beech genus to be found at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum - you can locate specific specimens and other varieties using the Westonbirt Interactive Map.
Common beech, Fagus sylvatica
Common beech is one of our tallest native broadleaf trees. It develops a huge domed crown held on smooth grey branches. Our best specimens are to be found on the Downs and to the north of Waste Drive. Beech timber is traditionally used for furniture making due to its strength and attractive grain.
Fagus sylvatica 'Asplenifolia'
This popular cultivated variety (cultivar) is known as the fern-leaf beech thanks to its delicate fernlike leaves. We have a beautiful specimen on Willesley Drive. Like all cultivars, this tree was propagated by cloning and if you look carefully you can see the line at the base of the trunk where the fern-leaved part was grafted onto a common beech rootstock.
Fagus sylvatica 'Dawyck'
This is another cultivar of common beech that originated in the garden at Dawyck in Scotland in around 1850. It has an unusual columnar growth habit (fastigate).
American beech, Fagus grandiflora
This species was introduced to Britain in 1766. Although a large tree in its native range it does not grow as big in Britain. Large oval leaves with long pointed tip and a saw-toothed edge turn a beautiful yellow in autumn.
This rare Chinese beech grows develops into a medium-sized, multi-stemmed tree with distinctive glaucous sea-green leaves. It was introduced in 1907 by Ernest Wilson. Two specimens can be seen on Willesley Drive.