Here is a photo of a variegated Fagus sylvatica seedling that was growing in one of our seed beds here at the nursery. I found it last summer (2005) in a bed of about 35,000 seedlings. This is the only variegated seedling we've descovered in the 10 or so years we've been growing Fagus sylvatica from seed.
The variegation both last year and this year has been like in the photo. Entire leaves will be white or green with some leaves divided down the middle or with irregular splashes of white.
The photo was taken this spring. The variegation has burned a little bit since the photo was taken, so the tree will likely need a shady location. Anyway, I'll be keeping my eye on this one for a couple of years to see how it does. The tree is about 1 1/2 years old now.
The tree is a seedling of F. sylvatica 'Rohanii' and is about 7-8 years old. However his branches are still too thin to be used as a graft so for now I am letting the tree to grow. May be next year I will start with first grafting ... some rootstocks are ready ;-)
I had a couple of oak seedlings a few years ago that were similar, except that all of the leaves were white. Initially, I had dreams of starting my own cultivar, with trees completely covered in white leaves. Of course the seedlings both died soon after that, when the store of energy in their seed leaves ran out, and I realized that there's a good reason why most leaves are green.
By the way, if you do have a seedling that is sufficiently unique, how do you go about getting it accepted as a named cultivar?
having a plant named as a cultivar is not the same as patenting it. A patent grants the right to sole exploitation of something for a period of time, unless someone pays you for the privilege of using / selling what you patented.
naming something just involves following rules in the international code of nomenclature for cultivated plants.
i doubt plant patents turn out to be very profitable - seems very hard to enforce and easy to be ripped off. But thats just a guess I dont know.
"One of my wishes is that those dark trees / So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze / Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom / But stretched away until the edge of doom." - Robert
Frost "Into My Own"
I have a japanese maple seedling that exhibited the same pattern of variegation. Some leaves all white. some all green. some cut exactly in half with white and green. When the white leaves were new they had a pinkish tinge. And the bark had some striping on the sides where the variegated leaves were growing. This year the buds that had white leaves never pushed new growth. It just grew from the green shoots. I wonder if it will ever demonstrate the white leaves again. I'm watching it...
I had a bigtooth maple seedling grow all white leaves that very slowly faded to mint green. They burned off in the sun and the seedling died. oh well.
variegation is an interesting novelty, but the plants seem a little touchy.