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Carpinus caroliniana Carpinus caroliniana

Common Name(s):

  • American Hornbeam
  • Blue Beech
  • Ironwood
  • Musclewood
  • Water Beech
Description

Carpinus caroliniana, commonly called American hornbeam, is a slow-growing, deciduous, small to medium-sized understory tree with an attractive globular form.  It typically grows to 20-35' tall. The smooth, gray trunk and larger branches of a mature tree exhibit a distinctive muscle-like fluting that has given rise to another common name of musclewood for this tree.

 

The American Hornbeam is a short, stubby tree that can have one or more trunks, each a foot wide.  The bark is bluish-gray, thin, fairly smooth, and heavily fluted. 

 

The extremely hard wood of this tree will, as the common name suggests, take a horn-like polish and was once used by early Americans to make bowls, tool handles and ox yokes. Commercial use of hornbeam wood is not practicable, however, due to the limited amount of wood that can be harvested per tree.

 Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves:   Fall     Bloom:  Early spring     Fruit/Seed/Nut:  Fall

Play Value: Wind Screen & Buffers; Wildlife Enhancement

Wildlife Value:  This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Red-spotted Purple butterflies.  The seed and buds are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, quail, wild turkeys, foxes, and squirrels.  On young specimens, the inner bard is eaten by beavers and rabbitts.  These plants also provide good cover and shelter for animals.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Leaf spots, cankers, and twig blight are occasional disease problems of the American hornbeam.

Cultivars:
Tags:
#butterflies#deciduous#fall color#songbirds#host plant#naturalize#street tree#playground#cpp#low flammability#children's garden#fire resistant
Cultivars:
Tags:
#butterflies#deciduous#fall color#songbirds#host plant#naturalize#street tree#playground#cpp#low flammability#children's garden#fire resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carpinus
    Species:
    caroliniana
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
  • Flower:
    Flower Color:
    Green
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Hairs Present:
    No
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds