Columnar or Fastigiate trees

Columnar or Fastigiate trees

Columnar or Fastigiate trees

To the botanist, the word fastigiate means ‘with parallel, erect, clustered branches’. It has become more widely used in a more generalized sense for trees with narrow crowns. All those mentioned are derived from natural sports and do not come true from seed (if that is produced). They are propagated as cultivars. They generally need careful pruning when young to ensure the necessary erect growth.

Their placing needs great care, as they inevitably have an unnatural look. Fastigiate conifers accord well when planted in the regular pattern of formal gardens-the use of the true cypress in the great Italian gardens of the Renaissance. Fastigiate trees can be skilfully used, too, for adding a steadying vertical element to a steeply sloping site. The planting of a ‘pair one on either side of the introduction to a vista can be very effective. Some of the less erect-growing are excellent for planting in narrow roads, or, for example, at thecentere of a lawn where space is limited.


ACER SACCHARINUM PYRAMIDALE An upright form of the silver maple, useful for street planting.

BETULA PENDULA FASTIGIATA This is an erect, slow-growing form of the common birch, resembling an erect besom.

CARPINUS BETULUS FASTIGIATA This is a valuable pyramidal rather than truly fastigiate cultivar of the hornbeam.

CRATAEGUS MONOGYNA STRICTA This has a narrow, erect-growing crown.

The Dawyck beech is a good erect tree.


A narrow-growing form of the tulip tree.

MALUS HUPEHENSIS ROBUSTA This has large white flowers and fairly erect growth. M. prunifolia fastigiata,the fastigiate Siberian crab.

POPULUS ALBA PYRAMIDALIS An erect-growing, very effective form of the white poplar; P. nigra italica isthe common large-growing Lombardy poplar.

PRUNUS ‘Amanogawa’ A very fastigiate, small-growing cherry with double pink flowers; P. hillieri ‘Spire’ reaches Sm (25ft) with pink flowers and good autumn foliage; P. ‘Umeniko’ has single white flowers with leaves coloring in autumn.

PTELEA TRIFOLIATA FASTIGIATA An erect growing form of the hop tree.

QUERCUS ROBUR FASTIGIATA The cypress oak, makes a broadly columnar tree of interesting form.

ROBINIA PSEUDOACACIA ERECTA A narrow form of the false acacia with few leaflets; pyramidalis has erect, spineless branches.

SORBUS AUCUPARIA FASTIGIATA A particularly narrow form of the rowan.

The Wheatley elm is a large tree of flame-like form excellent for street planting; U. glabra exoniensis isa slowgrowing erect form of the wych elm,the leaves often being distorted.


CEDRUS ATLANTICA ARGENTEA FASTIGIATA A narrowly pyramidal form of the Atlas cedar.

CHAMAECYPARIS LAWSONIANA This provides a number of narrowly erect forms, including the popular allumii with bluish foliage; columnaris very narrow, glaucous blue; erecta bright green; fraseri slender, grey-green; ‘Kilmacurragh’, bright green; pyramidalis alba with white tips to the branches in spring; and wisselli a fine tree reaching considerable size.

CUPRESSOCYPARIS LEYLANDII This is a densely-leaved, quick-growing tree of large size and fairly narrow shape.

CUPRESSUS ARIZONICA PYRAMIDALIS This is very narrow, of moderate size and with almost grey foliage.

GINKGO BILOBA FASTIGIATA This is an upright-growing form of the maidenhair tree useful for street planting.

JUNIPERUS COMMUNIS HIBERNICA The Irish juniper is columnar, but needs supporting.

LIBOCEDRUS DECURRENS The incense cedar makes a distinctive, large columnar tree. –

TAXUS BACCATA FASTIGIATA. The well-known Irish yew of churchyards, the golden-leaved form being fastigiata aurea.

THUJA OCCIDENTALIS FASTIGIATA A slow-growing, very narrow tree.

THUJA PLICATA FASTIGIATA A narrow form of the western red cedar making a tall tree,

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