Identifying and Treating Beech Tree Diseases

Most beech tree diseases are caused by fungal infections. These can be prevented if the symptoms are spotted early. You can use the following information to identify common beech tree diseases and choose the suitable form of disease control.

Beech Scale Disease

The beech scale or the Cryptococcus insect is one of the most destructive garden pests. It is an intensive feeder and is known to cause death of young, beech trees. The beech scale itself doesn’t cause the Scale Disease. It weakens the tree, making it vulnerable to fungal infections that quickly exhaust the tree’s vigor. This condition of scale-weakened beech trees suffering from fungal infestations is called the Beech Scale Disease. The Nectria family of fungus is known to attack beech trees weakened by scale attacks.

Beech Scale Symptoms

The beech scale is most active on the tree’s bark. It feeds incessantly by inserting its sharp mouthpart into the bark. Due to intensive, night-long feeding sessions, small canker-like spots start appearing on the bark. Due to repeated feeding from the same site, some spots develop a fissure-like appearance. Such fissures eventually become the breeding site for Nectria fungus attacks. These fissures can be identified by a typical white-colored outer edge. This gives the bark’s surface, a wax-coated appearance. A confirmatory indication of fungal infection seeping through the bruised stem sites is the presence of red-colored fruiting bodies called perithecia. Appearance of clustered perithecia means that scale insect population is declining and the fungal infection is quickly spreading. Fungal infection also causes thinning of the foliage and bending of young stems.

Beech Scale Control

You should understand that most scale-affected beech trees eventually die. Therefore, developing a comprehensive disease management regimen is critical. Use of high-pressure fungal sprays is recommended. You should spray the fungal spray all over the tree’s foliage and the main bark. Every form of diseased foliage should be pruned-off. To limit the entry of fungal pathogens through bruised sites, use oil preparations. You can use horticultural oils. Prepare a mixture of water, horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps. This mixture should be regularly sprayed on all sites suspected of scale attacks. Horticultural oil sprays should be used repeatedly from November to March to kill dormant scales. The oil layer protects against fungal seepage and kills the scale’s eggs. You should prune-away thick, intertwining foliage that often harbors scale colonies. For scale removal, use insecticides that have a high Neonicotinoid concentration. This chemical is known to be effective in killing the feeding, scale larvae.

Beech Tree Mildew

Powdery Mildew is a common fungal infection among garden plants. Among beech trees, the mildew is concentrated on the basal foliage and young branches.

Mildew Symptoms

An easy-to-sight symptom of mildew development is the presence of white, powder-like, dusted appearance of the leaves.

Mildew Prevention

Maintaining air circulation in tree’s foliage is vital to prevent mildew. Ensure that the beech tree is not overcrowded by surrounding shrubs. Prune-away branches that have split excessively, particularly those close to the tree’s base. Avoid using fertilizers that are nitrogen-heavy and avoid fertilizing intensively during wet conditions.

Mystery disease killing beech trees

Image copyright C.Mathias Image caption Once a tree displays the symptoms of Beech Leaf Disease, it will die in the coming years

A mysterious disease that is killing beech trees is spreading across parts of the United States.

Scientists say the disease, known as Beech Leaf Disease, has been recorded in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and parts of Ontario in Canada.

They say the cause of the tree killer needs to be identified in order to halt the spread.

It is expected to spread widely if the deadly pathogen becomes established in the wider environment.

In the UK, beech trees are widespread and are the main species in many woodlands. The tree is often referred to as a queen species, second only to the oak.

Death sentence

“The initial symptom is a dark staining pattern on the leaves,” explained Carrie Ewing, a PhD student from Ohio State University.

“Later, it seems that the leaves become shrivelled, almost leathery in texture. Eventually, the tree will die.”

Initial studies suggest that there is no sign of insect infestation or the presence of other vectors, adding to the mystery of how the disease is spreading.

Image copyright C.Ewing Image caption Researchers fear the disease will reach epidemic proportions if it continues to spread

Ms Ewing’s colleague, Prof Enrico Bonello, added: “We don’t quite understand how that transition from the banding to the stage where the leaves become all crinkled up and become very leather.

“Eventually, the buds die and desiccate on the trees.”

Prof Bonello observed: “The trees don’t die very fast. It takes a few years.”

Several species of beech trees are known to be vulnerable to this mysterious killer.

As well as the American beech (Fagus grandifolia), the disease has been recorded in the European (F. sylvatica) and Oriental beech (F. orientalis).

This has raised concerns that the pathogen could spread to other parts of the world where beech trees are plentiful, such as the temperate biomes in Europe.

Biosecurity is a key concern because researchers assume the introduction or spread of the disease is likely to have been the result of human activity.

“The spread has been quite fast,” explained Prof Bonello.

“In fact, it reminds me of other invasive alien species causing forest health problems, like emerald ash borer in North America or ash dieback in Europe where the spread starts on a very small scale, very slowly and then the spread picks up almost exponentially, spreading unabated.”

Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’: Purple European Beech1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


Purple European Beech grows into a wide oval, 70 to 80 feet tall and spreads 50 to 70 feet. Leaves emerge deep purple and fade somewhat to a purple-green during the summer. Branches normally sweep the ground in a graceful fashion. The tree grows slowly, recovers slowly from transplanting and prefers a sunny location and a moist, light soil. Though not a street tree, the tree makes one of the finest specimens of all those available in North America for large scale landscapes. Definitely not for residential landscapes. Purple European Beech is somewhat tolerant of heat and dry soil, but it is best to locate it where it would receive adequate moisture. Purple Beech and the cultivars `Pendula’ and `Fastigiata’ (`Dawyck’) are more available than the species and very attractive.

Figure 1.

Mature Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’: Purple European Beech

General Information

Scientific name: Fagus sylvatica Pronunciation: FAY-gus sill-VAT-ih-kuh Common name(s): Purple European Beech Family: Fagaceae USDA hardiness zones: 4A through 7B (Fig. 2) Origin: not native to North America Invasive potential: little invasive potential Uses: hedge; specimen; shade Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree Figure 2.



Height: 50 to 75 feet Spread: 40 to 60 feet Crown uniformity: symmetrical Crown shape: oval Crown density: dense Growth rate: slow Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3) Leaf type: simple Leaf margin: undulate, entire Leaf shape: ovate, elliptic (oval) Leaf venation: pinnate Leaf type and persistence: deciduous Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches Leaf color: purple/red Fall color: copper Fall characteristic: showy Figure 3.



Flower color: unknown Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: oval Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch Fruit covering: dry or hard Fruit color: brown Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns Pruning requirement: little required Breakage: resistant Current year twig color: brown, gray Current year twig thickness: thin Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; slightly alkaline; well-drained Drought tolerance: moderate Aerosol salt tolerance: low


Roots: can form large surface roots Winter interest: yes Outstanding tree: yes Ozone sensitivity: unknown Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management


Usually none are serious. Aphid colonies on the lower branches can be dislodged with a strong stream of water from the garden hose. Colonies are often disposed of by predatory insects.

Borers such as flat-headed appletree borer or two-lined chestnut borer bore into trees weakened by some stress. Prevent the insect infestations by keeping trees healthy with regular fertilization and irrigation in dry weather.

Regular inspections of the trunk and branches are suggested for early detection of scales. Horticultural oil sprays will help control scales.

Certain caterpillars can be controlled with sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis .


Usually none are serious provided soil is loose and is well-drained.

Several fungi cause leaf spots but are generally not serious to warrant chemical control.

Powdery mildew causes a white coating on the leaves. The disease is most common late in the season.

Bleeding canker forms cankers from which a brownish liquid oozes. Crown symptoms include leaves of smaller size and lighter green color than normal. In severe cases the leaves wilt and the branches die. Avoid feeding with high nitrogen fertilizers as it seems to worsen the condition of infected trees.

Beech bark disease occurs when the feeding site of woolly Beech scale is invaded by a fungus. The fungus kills the bark and in the process, the insects. There are no satisfactory controls for the fungus. Control the disease by controlling the scale with a horticultural oil.

Cankers infect, girdle, and occasionally kill branches. Prune out the infected branches.

During periods of high temperatures and low rainfall Beech leaves may scorch. Make sure trees are adequately watered.


This document is ENH404, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014 Visit the EDIS website at

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

Fagus Sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ Hedging

The fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ is commonly known as the copper beech, a name that truly reflects the lovely appearance of this plant, in addition to being easier to both pronounce and remember. The fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ cultivar is derived from the natural species known as the common beech. The common beech and the copper beech are essentially the same species, which is why they are both known by the botanical name “fagus sylvatica”. As a result, both of these varieties are almost entirely interchangeable. However, in some cases, it would be preferable choosing the fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ over its naturally occurring parent plant. So what is it that makes the fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ worth considering as a hedging plant?

The ‘Atropurpurea’ cultivar distinguishes itself from the common, green variety known as the common beech due to its visually appealing, reddish leaves. This colourful foliage will add interest to your garden throughout the year. The young leaves have a coppery red colour and darken to a deep purple shade in the summer and autumn. When the winter arrives, the foliage will have reached its final stage. Unlike many other deciduous plants, the fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ will hold on to its leaves throughout most of the winter. By the time the cultivar actually sheds its leaves during springtime, they will quickly be replaced by fresh growth. If you are lucky and the conditions are optimal, there will even already be fresh growth before the leaves are shed.

Fagus Sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ for Wildlife Hedges

As the naturally occurring common beech is native to western Europe, you will not have to worry if the ‘Atropurpurea’ variety will thrive in our climate: it will. It is used to growing in European conditions. This particular cultivar has been established fairly recently, however. After recognizing the ornamental value of the species, nurseries all over the world have been developing their own cultivars since the early nineteenth century. When one specific copper beech in the United States was described as “the finest copper beech in America” around the middle of the nineteenth century, that specimen was about 15 metres tall, which given its growth rate of 30 to 60 centimetres per year would mean that it was at least half a century old.

The copper beech is often planted as a standalone tree in large gardens and public parks, but it also makes an excellent hedging plant. Due to the fact that it does not shed its leaves, it can even make a fairly decent screening hedge, although we would generally recommend other growing species for that purpose. In addition, the fine grain of beechwood makes this wood type excellent for various woodworking purposes, especially after being steamed. As this relatively hard wood can be used for just about anything except for heavy structural support. It is often used to produce furniture, but it also makes an excellent firewood. Its fruits also attract wildlife, as birds and rodents like to eat them. Please keep in mind that these nuts are toxic to humans when consumed in large quantities.

Mixed Hedges with Fagus Sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’

Copper beech is an undemanding cultivar that tolerates a vast range of soil types, including chalk, sand and lime, which are generally considered to be difficult soils. Be sure to avoid planting your copper beech hedge in a heavy clay soil, however, as such soils are prone to becoming waterlogged, which is not ideal for copper beech, as it is not particularly fond of wet feet. Despite thriving in most other soils, copper beech will do best in a humus-rich soil, so it is wise to mix the planting soil with a pinch of special fertiliser or compost while you are planting your fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ to get the most out of your hedge. In the right conditions, fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ can grow 30 to 60 centimetres per year.

If you are looking to make an outstanding formal hedge with as little effort as possible, copper beech is the right plant for you. One pruning session a year will help your copper beech hedge keep its shape, but it can also be left to grow in order to grow a hedge with a more wild, natural appearance that will have a higher value to wildlife. You can always grow a beautiful single species hedge with this beautiful cultivar, but another popular way to grow a beech hedge is by mixing two or more varieties of beech in a single row. By alternating green and purple varieties, you will be rewarded with a hedge of unparalleled beauty. Such a mixed beech hedge will certainly make your garden stand out.

Copper Beech – a Versatile Hedging Plant

The common beech is of course a beautiful plant with excellent qualities for hedging purposes, but if you are looking to combine the appearance of a beech hedge with a simply exceptional seasonal colouring, a copper beech hedge is the type of hedge to go for. Its fast growth rate will enable you to grow either a neatly trimmed, formal hedge or a rather informal hedge with a more natural, wild look, whereas most hedging plants only offer you one of either possibilities. You do not have to settle for either a green common beech hedge or a more colourful copper beech hedge, however, as a mixed hedge is sure to make your garden stand out and make you a beautiful garden to come home to. A copper beech hedge is simply a versatile hedge which can even deal with some of the most difficult soils.

Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group (Copper beech)

Botanical name

Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group

Other names

Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Group’, Copper beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’, Purple beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Cuprea’, Fagus sylvatica Cuprea Group, Fagus sylvatica Purple-leaved Group, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea


Fagus Fagus

Variety or Cultivar

Atropurpurea Group _ Atropurpurea Group is a large, upright, spreading, deciduous tree with oval to elliptic, glossy, dark purple leaves turning copper to maroon in autumn and inconspicuous, purple flowers in spring followed by bristly, pale brown fruit.


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Insignificant or absent, Purple in Spring

Dark-purple in Summer; Maroon, Copper in Autumn

How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Aphids , Beech bark scale

Specific diseases

Beech bark disease , Bracket fungi on standing trees , Coral spot , Foot and root rot , Heart rot

General care


Hedging should be trimmed back in summer. No other attention is required, bar the removal or damaged or diseased shoots. If one wishes the tree to retain its distinctive dried-out leaves throughout winter it should be trimmed in late summer.

Propagation methods


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Where to grow

Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group (Copper beech) will reach a height of 20m and a spread of 15m after 20-50 years.

Suggested uses

Hedging/Screens, Low Maintenance, Foliage only


Grows in a wide range of well-drained soils. Leaf colour is best in full sun. Partial shade is tolerated.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral


Partial Shade, Full Sun


North, South, East, West


Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group (Copper beech)

Common pest name

Asian longhorn beetle; Starry sky beetle

Scientific pest name

Anoplophora glabripennis



Current status in UK


Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

Recognised threat to a wide range of deciduous tress native to the UK. Already regulated it is a priority for continued surveillance and statutory action. The risk of entry is further mitigated by EU legislation requiring the monitoring of wooden packaging material originating from China.

Defra’s Risk register #2

Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group (Copper beech)

Elm spanworm; Ennomid; white; Linden moth; snow-white

Ennomos subsignaria



Polyphagous moth pest which defoliates deciduous trees and; with repeated infestation; can cause tree death. Present in North America and current import requirements do not fully mitigate the risk of introduction. A PRA will help to assess the level of risk more fully.

Defra’s Risk register #3

Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group (Copper beech)

Black and white longhorn; Citrus longhorn; Citrus longhorn beetle; Citrus root cerambycid

Anoplophora chinensis



Recognised threat to a wide range of deciduous trees native to the UK. Already regulated; it is a priority for continued surveillance and statutory action.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit:

Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea Pleached Copper Beech

Available Sizes to buy online All Prices Include VAT Height Excluding Pot:
2.4m (7ft 10)

Plant shape: Frame 1.2m wide x 1.2m high

Trunk height: 1.2 m

Trunk girth: 8-10 cm

Rootball – supplied without a pot

Plant ID: 3112 A 70
Click to view photo of this size

Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea Pleached Copper Beech

This image displays plant 2.4 m tall.

Height Excluding Pot:
2.4m (7ft 10)

Plant shape: Frame 1.2m wide x 1.2m high

Trunk height: 1.2 m

Trunk girth: 8-10 cm

Rootball – supplied without a pot

Plant ID: 3112 A 70
Was £175.00 40% Off – Now £105.00
Buy 10 for £1,710.00 40% Off – Now £1,026.00

Was £175.00 40% Off – Now £105.00
Buy 10 for £1,710.00 40% Off – Now £1,026.00 Height Excluding Pot:
2.9m (9ft 6)

Plant shape: Frame 1.2m wide x 1.4m high

Trunk height: 1.5 m

Trunk girth: 10-12 cm

Rootball – supplied without a pot

Plant ID: 3113 A 70
Click to view photo of this size

Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea Pleached Copper Beech

This image displays plant 2.9 m tall.

Height Excluding Pot:
2.9m (9ft 6)

Plant shape: Frame 1.2m wide x 1.4m high

Trunk height: 1.5 m

Trunk girth: 10-12 cm

Rootball – supplied without a pot

Plant ID: 3113 A 70
Was £205.00 40% Off – Now £123.00
Buy 10 for £1,970.00 40% Off – Now £1,182.00

Was £205.00 40% Off – Now £123.00
Buy 10 for £1,970.00 40% Off – Now £1,182.00 Height Excluding Pot:
3.2m (10ft 5)

Plant shape: Frame 1.2m wide x 1.4m high

Trunk height: 1.8 m

Trunk girth: 10-12 cm

Rootball – supplied without a pot

Plant ID: 3114 70
Click to view photo of this size

Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea Pleached Copper Beech

This image displays plant 3.2 m tall.

Height Excluding Pot:
3.2m (10ft 5)

Plant shape: Frame 1.2m wide x 1.4m high

Trunk height: 1.8 m

Trunk girth: 10-12 cm

Rootball – supplied without a pot

Plant ID: 3114 70
Was £270.00 40% Off – Now £162.00

Was £270.00 40% Off – Now £162.00
Height Excluding Pot:
3.2-3.4m (10ft 5-11ft 1)

Plant shape: Frame 1.2m wide x 1.5m high

Trunk height: 1.8 m

Trunk girth: 10-12 cm

Rootball – supplied without a pot

Plant ID: 3115 70
Click to view photo of this size Was £298.00 40% Off – Now £178.80

For OVERSIZED Plant Orders delivery will be one charge of £60 for Greater & Outer London or £95 or £145 for selected Further Distance postcodes. To check delivery cost add your plants to basket, then you can type your postcode in our Quick Delivery Price Check.

Pleached Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea Copper Beech Trees – supplied root balled
Our pleached Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea, also called Pleached Copper Beech or Purple Beech, will add a striking appearance to gardens large or small. The strong architectural form of the pleached crown, combined with beautiful foliage, makes this an ideal landscaping plant, and the advantages of root balled specimens ensure that your Pleached Copper Beech will thrive when planted in your garden! As our Pleached Copper Beech trees are sold as root balls, they are ready for planting as soon as they are delivered. The biodegradable sack and mesh protect the root system and make for a safe and easy transplanting of semi-mature plants. Since they are not containerised, root balled plants offer great value for money. Pleached Copper Beech has much better leaf retention than Pleached Hornbeam trees and therefore looks nicer in the winter, more successfully retaining its privacy screening attributes.

Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea is an attractive purple-leaved variety of the UK native Beech. It leaves emerge in spring a bright coppery red, changing to a bronze-green in summer before turning to orange and copper shades in autumn. The leaves of the Pleached Copper Beech may remain on the tree through much of the winter, and even the bare structured shape of the trees will add considerable visual interest.

Hardy in all of the UK and northern Europe, Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea can grow to a massive size, but by pleaching our Purple Beech specimens, we have created a tree suitable for planting in a small garden. By the time your Pleached Copper Beach trees are ready, we have already done most of the difficult work of training the crown into the square shape on an elevated clear stem, leaving you with the minor task of trimming once or twice a year to maintain the crown’s straight lines.

Pleached Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea should be planted in full sun or partial shade with any exposure in any moist but well-drained soil.and as long as the soil is not waterlogged in the winter it will even grow in clay soils.Since they will arrive root balled, the healthy root system of these field-grown trees will quickly recover from transplanting.

The landscaping and architectural possibilities of Pleached Copper Beach trees are many, as they combine the utility of providing screening as well as the beauty of their pleached form and purple foliage. They make an excellent edging for a roof terrace, or lining a narrow walkway, where their slim profile will take up little space while making a big statement. Their structured appearance is a natural fit for formal gardens, and the dense pleached crown of Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea can turn a low wall into a tall screen without undertaking a major construction project!

Pleached trees have had a place in formal gardens and public spaces for centuries, and with good reason. A row of pleached Fagus Sylvatica Atropurpurea will bring privacy, beauty and a distinctive look to your garden, terrace, or courtyard, and the root balled trees will get off to a strong start and continued healthy growth in their new home.

FREQUENTLY BOUGHT WITH >>Pleached Hornbeam Trees – Carpinus BetulusPleached Lime TreesPyrus Calleryana Chanticleer PleachedSalix Integra Hakuro Nishiki

Purple Beech Trees

Beech Purple beech tree (fagus sylvatica) is a large noble tree with deep purple/russet red leaves and silver-grey bark bearing pink tinged flowers.Best planted as a specimen tree where it has space to flourish. Beech roots thrive in shallow but fertile soil, spreading laterally just below the surface. (Our range of beech plants include Green Beech, Fagus Sylvatica) much sought after as it is ideal for furniture. Retains most of its leaves over winter which can be clipped closely if used as hedging and will remain dense because it tolerates shade. The purple form of Common beech is a beautiful hedge plant in formal situations.The foliage flushes out bright red in spring aand again after a midsummer trim. Like green beech it will hold its leaves during winter so improving its efficiency as an all year wind break. PRUNING – best to prune a beech hedge in early August as this will allow any new leaves to remain over winter causing the beech hedging to look autumnal. If too late to prune in August would recommend waiting until Spring.

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