European Beech

There is only one species of beech in the Yard. The European beech graces the Canaday courtyard and the east side of the Yard along Quincy St. However, at first glance one might think that the trees in these two areas are different species. The Canaday courtyard ones have green leaves while the large ones along Quincy St. have purple leaves. But they are very much the same species. The "copper beech" is the name that describes the European beech with this characteristic. This leave type can be found in the wild (in Europe of course), but is in less than 0.1% of the trees. Be sure to look for this very obvious tree in the Yard and around the Boston area.

A European beech near the east side of the yard

Why aren't these trees planted in the canopy portion of the Yard? Well, beeches are slow growing, but very shade tolerant trees. This means that their leaves are efficient even at low light, so the leaves towards the base of the crown are still productive. This leaves very little light for the grass underneath the tree. Even in its natural forest environment, beeches cast a dark shadow under which few plants can grow.

A European beech casts a dark shadow. There is only bare dirt under the tree surrounded by dormant grass. The rest of the European beeches are planted in Canaday courtyard.

The purple leaves of the copper beech.

Virginia Tech Dendrology info- European beech


Created by Ryan Lynch

Map template courtesy the Harvard Planning and Allston Initiative

Last updated May 2, 2007