Differences Between Japanese and European Beech?

Mike Hennigan

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Hey all, I'd love to hear from people who have experience with both or have general know-how about what the various differences are between Japanese and European Beech in bonsai cultivation. I cant seem to find a many resources directly comparing the two, and I'm looking into buying seed of one or the other or both and am trying to make an informed decision. How do they compare when it comes to physical traits and how they respond to different bonsai cultivation techniques? Differences in leaf size, leaf reduction, internode length, development of fine ramification, are there differences in how they respond to root pruning? etc. Thanks so much in advance.
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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...asks the guy who can’t find a Japanese Beech anywhere...?
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Hope you can find a JB, they’re such fun to work with in a few ways.
 

Mike Hennigan

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...asks the guy who can’t find a Japanese Beech anywhere...?
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Hope you can find a JB, they’re such fun to work with in a few ways.
Lol. Yea hoping to score some seed from Sheffield’s, website says their expecting a seed crop from 2018 soon. We’ll see! I see Bill Valavanis is selling some European beech seedlings but I think I’d rather go the seed route, since I’d like to try growing a bunch.

Any opinions on how they differ when it comes to leaf size and ramification in bonsai culture?
 

GGB

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I'd love to hear some opinions too. I'm considering this species and am thinking about doing it by seed as well. They seem expensive and hard to find for some reason. must ... grow ..... slow...
 

Brent

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Very little difference. Leaves of Fagus crenata (Japanese) are a bit more rounded and the edges are more crenulated (thus F. crenata). Leaves are about the same size, both will reduce, so that's really not an important factor. JB is more susceptible to late spring freezes and is probably less cold hardy overall, which is not a surprise given the differences in climate of their native habitat.

Don't get your hopes up with Sheffield's, I put in a request about six months ago and haven't heard anything yet. I used to get seed from FW Schmacher, but they haven't had any in years. If you do score some seed, it probably won't need pretreament, just soak it and sow, and put it in cool/cold area, but don't let it freeze. The last batch I had started sprouting almost as soon as I got it.

I get requests for it all the time, but I have been sold out for 2 or 3 years now and can't locate any anywhere, or seedlings either. Since it is virtually impossible to grow from cuttings, we in the US are stuck right now.

I have plenty of F. sylvatica (European), including copper (purple) seedlings.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
 

Mike Hennigan

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Very little difference. Leaves of Fagus crenata (Japanese) are a bit more rounded and the edges are more crenulated (thus F. crenata). Leaves are about the same size, both will reduce, so that's really not an important factor. JB is more susceptible to late spring freezes and is probably less cold hardy overall, which is not a surprise given the differences in climate of their native habitat.

Don't get your hopes up with Sheffield's, I put in a request about six months ago and haven't heard anything yet. I used to get seed from FW Schmacher, but they haven't had any in years. If you do score some seed, it probably won't need pretreament, just soak it and sow, and put it in cool/cold area, but don't let it freeze. The last batch I had started sprouting almost as soon as I got it.

I get requests for it all the time, but I have been sold out for 2 or 3 years now and can't locate any anywhere, or seedlings either. Since it is virtually impossible to grow from cuttings, we in the US are stuck right now.

I have plenty of F. sylvatica (European), including copper (purple) seedlings.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com

Thanks for weighing in @Brent , means a lot. Based on what you said it may make more sense for me to pursue growing European beech given my climate and that I lack an enclosed overwintering space. I just mulch my pots in, and we do get some whacky spring weather here sometimes.

Two years ago in February we got a week of 70 degree weather (very strange) and the. Shortly followed by a blizzard. All my bulbs flowered and died lol.

Making a forest planting with the purple leaf varieties could be pretty interesting! Anything peculiar to know about those when it comes to bonsai culture?
 

TN_Jim

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They (F. crenata) like other beech don’t reach sexual maturity until 40-50, and seed viability is a narrow window.

Because of the relatively brief window of viability, seems like the best time to aim for purchasing or collecting them (seeds) would be in autumn. Not sure..but these factors may also be part of why seeds are so high?
 

Mike Hennigan

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They (F. crenata) like other beech don’t reach sexual maturity until 40-50, and seed viability is a narrow window.

Because of the relatively brief window of viability, seems like the best time to aim for purchasing or collecting them (seeds) would be in autumn. Not sure..but these factors may also be part of why seeds are so high?

F. Crenata doesn’t seem to be used in the general nursery trade here in the US either. So seeing as the demand may almost be exclusively from the bonsai sector it makes sense why it’s hard to find seed for.
 
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I've grown and trained both European and Japanese beech for decades. European beech is more winter hardy in Upstate NY than the Japanese species. Most "Japanese" beech have larger foliage than the European beech. However, the common Japanese beech is not often trained in Japan. Rather they train the Fuji Japanese beech. They often forget to put the "Fuji" in the name. The Fuji Japanese beech generally come from the area surrounding Mt. Fuji. This variety has slender leaves, European beech has a wider leaf blade. The European beech foliage can easily be reduced, using common training techniques for beech foliage maintenance.

The European beech is much easier to find in the US than Japanese beech. And, this year European beech seedlings are in very short supply from large wholesale nurseries around the country. A few years ago we had the same problem because of seed crop failure.

I now grow and prefer European beech for bonsai. They quickly develop and make excellent forest, two specimens are attached.

For a comprehensive article on how to create a beech forest check out my blog:
https://valavanisbonsaiblog.com/2014/03/

Also, the World Bonsai Friendship Federation also reprinted the same article which can be seen here:
http://wbffbonsai.com/Education/Beech Forest.pdf

Last year we were able to get some fantastic larger European beech seedlings with branching. They are now established in 1 gallon pots and available in my seedling catalog here:
http://www.internationalbonsai.com/files/1708315/uploaded/2019 SEEDLING CATALOG.pdf

Have fun, I'll stick with European beech, unless I find some well branched Japanese beech specimens.

You know, certain plant names sound "exotic" and the sell by themselves like Brazilian Rain Tree, Japanese Beech and Ezo Spruce. Marketing is important.

BEECH 2002.JPG
European beech 2002

BEECH 2003.jpg
European beech 2003


BEECH 3 2012.JPG
European beech 2012


NEW BEECH 2014copy.jpg
New European beech forest after creating in 2014 (same as in my blog post)


NEW BEECH 2016.JPG
New European beech forest 2016


NEW FOREST 2018.JPG
New European beech forest 2018. Not bad for only four seasons of development. Look at some of your trees and see what you can develop in only 4 years....
 

Mike Hennigan

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I've grown and trained both European and Japanese beech for decades. European beech is more winter hardy in Upstate NY than the Japanese species. Most "Japanese" beech have larger foliage than the European beech. However, the common Japanese beech is not often trained in Japan. Rather they train the Fuji Japanese beech. They often forget to put the "Fuji" in the name. The Fuji Japanese beech generally come from the area surrounding Mt. Fuji. This variety has slender leaves, European beech has a wider leaf blade. The European beech foliage can easily be reduced, using common training techniques for beech foliage maintenance.

The European beech is much easier to find in the US than Japanese beech. And, this year European beech seedlings are in very short supply from large wholesale nurseries around the country. A few years ago we had the same problem because of seed crop failure.

I now grow and prefer European beech for bonsai. They quickly develop and make excellent forest, two specimens are attached.

For a comprehensive article on how to create a beech forest check out my blog:
https://valavanisbonsaiblog.com/2014/03/

Also, the World Bonsai Friendship Federation also reprinted the same article which can be seen here:
http://wbffbonsai.com/Education/Beech Forest.pdf

Last year we were able to get some fantastic larger European beech seedlings with branching. They are now established in 1 gallon pots and available in my seedling catalog here:
http://www.internationalbonsai.com/files/1708315/uploaded/2019 SEEDLING CATALOG.pdf

Have fun, I'll stick with European beech, unless I find some well branched Japanese beech specimens.

You know, certain plant names sound "exotic" and the sell by themselves like Brazilian Rain Tree, Japanese Beech and Ezo Spruce. Marketing is important.

View attachment 223060
European beech 2002

View attachment 223061
European beech 2003


View attachment 223062
European beech 2012


View attachment 223063
New European beech forest after creating in 2014 (same as in my blog post)


View attachment 223064
New European beech forest 2016


View attachment 223065
New European beech forest 2018. Not bad for only four seasons of development. Look at some of your trees and see what you can develop in only 4 years....

Bill, thanks so much for the thoughtful and very informative reply! Gave me a lot to think about! I will give your catalog a second look. The development on the forest is very impressive. I love forest plantings and could easily see myself making a dozen of different species. I actually had the opportunity to take your forest planting workshop two years ago and made a lovely Larch forest.

I have been collecting a lot of different sized wild Hawthorn, C. monogyna, the last couple years with the intent to build a forest. Some nice specimens full of character. I even collected seed and have started some seedlings for the smallest trees in the forest. Will probably be another year or two before I put one together since I’m letting the branching and roots develop a bit more on the collected trees. Very excited to put it together eventually.
 

barrosinc

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I've grown and trained both European and Japanese beech for decades. European beech is more winter hardy in Upstate NY than the Japanese species. Most "Japanese" beech have larger foliage than the European beech. However, the common Japanese beech is not often trained in Japan. Rather they train the Fuji Japanese beech. They often forget to put the "Fuji" in the name. The Fuji Japanese beech generally come from the area surrounding Mt. Fuji. This variety has slender leaves, European beech has a wider leaf blade. The European beech foliage can easily be reduced, using common training techniques for beech foliage maintenance.

The European beech is much easier to find in the US than Japanese beech. And, this year European beech seedlings are in very short supply from large wholesale nurseries around the country. A few years ago we had the same problem because of seed crop failure.

I now grow and prefer European beech for bonsai. They quickly develop and make excellent forest, two specimens are attached.

For a comprehensive article on how to create a beech forest check out my blog:
https://valavanisbonsaiblog.com/2014/03/

Also, the World Bonsai Friendship Federation also reprinted the same article which can be seen here:
http://wbffbonsai.com/Education/Beech Forest.pdf

Last year we were able to get some fantastic larger European beech seedlings with branching. They are now established in 1 gallon pots and available in my seedling catalog here:
http://www.internationalbonsai.com/files/1708315/uploaded/2019 SEEDLING CATALOG.pdf

Have fun, I'll stick with European beech, unless I find some well branched Japanese beech specimens.

You know, certain plant names sound "exotic" and the sell by themselves like Brazilian Rain Tree, Japanese Beech and Ezo Spruce. Marketing is important.

View attachment 223060
European beech 2002

View attachment 223061
European beech 2003


View attachment 223062
European beech 2012


View attachment 223063
New European beech forest after creating in 2014 (same as in my blog post)


View attachment 223064
New European beech forest 2016


View attachment 223065
New European beech forest 2018. Not bad for only four seasons of development. Look at some of your trees and see what you can develop in only 4 years....
My inspiration to go out there and get 9 european beeches!!
 

Walter Pall

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Everything that Bill wrote i agree. i want to add that both are NOT really hardy in a bonsai pot. Where I live there are tens of thousands of large European beech which survive every winter. The same species in a bonsai pot without some frost protection will die. This is because the tree is only hardy above soil. The roots expect to not get much forst. A bonsai pot will freeze solidly over night and the roots are dead.

Japanese beech and European beech





Japane1.jpg1.jpg
 

coh

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Everything that Bill wrote i agree. i want to add that both are NOT really hardy in a bonsai pot. Where I live there are tens of thousands of large European beech which survive every winter. The same species in a bonsai pot without some frost protection will die. This is because the tree is only hardy above soil. The roots expect to not get much forst. A bonsai pot will freeze solidly over night and the roots are dead.
But there are freezes, and there are FREEZES. I have a hard time believing that one night where the roots freeze (assuming the temp doesn't go too low, maybe upper 20s) will kill the tree. Anyone know how low of a temp those roots can tolerate? @William N. Valavanis , you keep yours in the garage where temps are maintained at about 28 F, right? Please let me know if I'm off on that number as that should give us a pretty good idea.
 
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I maintain a minimum low temperature of about 27F for Beech of all species in the overwintering garage. Other Beech nursery stock is overwintered in unheated poly houses where the temperatures can reach about 15F. Beech are fine here as well.
 

Paulpash

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Lol. Yea hoping to score some seed from Sheffield’s, website says their expecting a seed crop from 2018 soon. We’ll see! I see Bill Valavanis is selling some European beech seedlings but I think I’d rather go the seed route, since I’d like to try growing a bunch.

Any opinions on how they differ when it comes to leaf size and ramification in bonsai culture?

I grew mine by seed but it ain't quick by any means. They're fun like @Brian Van Fleet says but challenging too. You're looking at 20 years to get a decent tree that looks like a bonsai...
 

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