The beech tree is one of the most hardiest and recognisable trees in the UK. However the real star of the Beech tree family is that of the Copper Beech. This purple leaved beauty is such a striking addition to the UK forest scene that it’s impossible to dismiss. They need care just as every other tree does and this is where the Dorset Tree Surgeon Kieran Boyland comes in very handy. Where does this distinctive individual tree come from?
The answer is, we still don’t have a clue. The Beech is known as the Queen of British trees (Oak is the King, in case you were wondering) but this special variety seems to have decided to be like this on its own. We know that copper beeches have been around for decades, but we still don’t understand why the difference in colour occurs. Some beeches can be used as ornamental garden trees and are bred to be purple. But copper beech, like the common beech, also grows naturally, especially in the South East where it decides itself.
It seems like all beech trees hold the genetic ability to be purple. But the gene is normally “switched off,” so the tree grows green leaves every year. Spontaneously, without human intervention, the spontaneously occurring mutation appears.
It seems wrong to call it a mutation but it is certainly a very beautiful and welcome one. Let’s hope they don’t all decide to have a go at being purple, that would look weird.