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Bigleaf Hornbeam Carpinus cordata

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Distegocarpus cordatus
Phonetic Spelling
kar-PINE-us kor-DAY-tah
Description

Bigleaf Hornbeam or Heartleaf Hornbeam is a small to medium-sized, densely branched, slow-growing, deciduous tree. The tree grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet tall and 12-15 feet wide. In its native habitat, Bigleaf Hornbeam may reach 50 feet in height. The tree is frequently used as an understory tree because it thrives in shade. Tolerant of hard pruning, this tree may be used as a hedge or screen. The dense heart-shaped leaves and dark gray bark can be appreciated in any shaded woodland garden. The tree is a member of the Betulaceae or Birch Family.

Bigleaf Hornbeam is native to Japan, Korea, China, and Russia. It is typically found in forests and mountain slopes.

The genus name, Carpinus, is Latin for "hornbeam." The species name, cordata, references its heart-shaped leaves. The common name, Hornbeam, is derived from "horn," meaning hard, and "beam," meaning tree in Old English.

This species prefers moist, well-drained, and organically rich soils. The tree will tolerate full sun, but it thrives in part shade. It has a rounded habit, but it will tolerate pruning for use as a screen or hedge. 

The leaves are large, dark green, and heart-shaped with doubly serrated margins. The flowers are greenish male and female catkins that are present from May to June. The female catkins produce oblong cigar-shaped nutlets that are seen from July to August. 

The wood from the tree is used for making furniture and farming tools.

Bigleaf Hornbeam is an attractive low-maintenance understory tree.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems though cankers, leaf spots and twig blight occasionally occur.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade garden#low maintenance#understory tree#street tree#hedges#privacy#attractive leaves#screening#heavy shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade garden#low maintenance#understory tree#street tree#hedges#privacy#attractive leaves#screening#heavy shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carpinus
    Species:
    cordata
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The tree wood is used for making furniture and agricultural tools.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Japan, northeastern China, Korea and Russia
    Distribution:
    Native: China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Inner Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, and Primorye
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 12 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The female catkin produces an oblong nutlet. The fruit is a showy 3-5 inch long, cigar-shaped seedpod. The fruits are displayed from July to August.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Greenish male and female catkins appear from May to June. The male catkin is 1-2 inches long. The female catkin is 3-5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are dark green and measure 2.5 to 5.5 inches long and 1.5 to 3.25 inches wide. They are cordate at the base and have tapered points. They are hairy along the upper surface midrib and on the undersides. The margins are doubly toothed. The foliage has no insignificant color change in the fall.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Black
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Furrowed
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    The bark is gray to black-gray and scaly fissured.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The branches are brown or yellowish-brown and smooth. The young branches may be smooth or densely pubescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Street Tree
    Understory Tree
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade