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Fagus sylvatica ‘Asplenifolia’

This uncommon cultivar of the European beech has delicate leaves which deep pointed lobes giving a fern-like appearance.


There are two still growing on the property. See if you can find one as you walk towards Lovell Street along Appleton Road or near the entrance to the Hidden Spring Trail.

Fernleaf beech leaf

Fernleaf beech tree


History at Hadwen

Hadwen was immensely fond of his fern-leaf beech collection. In 1900, he lectured “the Fern-Leaved beech is perhaps the most shapely in its growth of any in the family. I have several, one of which is thirty feet high and thirty feet in spread and without question the most beautiful and symmetrical tree in my collection. The foliage is finely cut and very dense, making it a marked tree in any collection.”

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Detailed Species Information

Fern-leaf beech is a deciduous tree species in the family Fagaceae and is a cultivar of the European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) native to much of Europe. This large tree typically grows from 50–60 feet (15–18 meters) in height and up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in diameter. The lifespan of the European beech ranges from 150 to 200 years, but in some cases can approach 300 years under ideal conditions. The distinctively delicate leaves of the fern-leaf beech are long and narrow with many small, pointed lobes. The fern-like appearance of these leaves is where this cultivar gets its namesake. Like other European beeches, the fern-leaf beech has smooth, gray bark.

These beeches require good drainage and adequate rainfall to thrive. European beeches are acclimated to very low light conditions and immature beeches can even be stunted by excessive sunlight. For this reason, European beech seedlings rarely survive in clearcut areas. Because of their large size, dense shade, and unique foliage, the fern-leaf beech makes an excellent shade tree and ornamental in landscaping although this cultivar is rarely found in the United States.

Contact Information

Hadwen Arboretum