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Beech Collection

Beeches are notable for their incredibly smooth gray bark, distinguishing them from many other hardwood trees

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Weeping European beech may be one of the most striking trees in the taxonomic collection at The Morton Arboretum. Its silvery-gray, muscle-like bark is typical of beech species, but its weeping form is especially graceful. This collection has a variety of European beech cultivars, each with unusual and attractive characteristics.

Beech trees are in the genus Fagus and the family Fagaceae. Beeches are notable for their incredibly smooth gray bark, distinguishing them from many other hardwood trees. The genus comprises about 11 species that are found on the continents of North America, Asia, and Europe.

The Arboretum’s collection is located on the far East Side, and includes three species:  Oriental beech (Fagus orientalis), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and European beech (Fagus sylvatica). European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and many European beech cultivars dominate this collection. This collection also has a fine specimen of swamp-white oak (Quercus bicolor), which is a relative of the beech.

Look for the copper beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea) and Spaeth purple-leaved European beech (Fagus sylvactica ‘Spaethiana), which have striking purple foliage that turns copper-colored in fall. Also incredible to see is the weeping European beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’). Take a close look at the leaves of the swamp-white oak in the collection and see how it got its Latin name, Quercus bicolor.

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