The Purple Copper Beech is a natural mutant of the Common Beech (what’s known as genetic variation) and first appeared in Europe in the 15th century. While it is a common sight both in the wild and in gardens, there are no actual Purple Copper Beech woodlands in the way Common Beech colonises and dominates whole areas. However, from the perspective of a wildlife hedge, the Purple Copper Beech offers just about every benefit associated with its Common relative.
Birds: The Beech nut is an important food for many species including Great Tit, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Siskin. These are produced on female plants and appear after around ten years. (See picture above)
Mammals: The Beech nut is equally popular with small mammals including mice, squirrels and – importantly -rare voles.
Insects: Beech foliage is eaten by the caterpillars of several moths, including the barred hook-tip, clay triple-lines and olive crescent.
Birds: If trimmed in early August, a Beech hedge will keep its leaves, offering privacy to humans and an excellent habitat for garden birds.
Mammals: The thick shelter of an established Beech hedge offer
Insects: Over 60 insect species have been recorded living in Beech
If you are planting a longer Purple Copper Beech hedge, then do consider letting one, two or more of the plants grow as a tree. A Beech left to its own devices ill reach c.4m after ten years. Not only will your hedge become a domesticated hedgerow, once the trees grow taller than the hedge, they will start to provide an even richer habitat for hole-nesting birds, wood-boring insects and a home for a broad selection of fungi, mosses and lichen.
(And don’t forget that Common Beech and can be mixed and matched to great effect)