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Carpinus orientalis

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Carpinus nigra
Phonetic Spelling
kar-PINE-or-ee-en-TAY-liss
Description

Oriental Hornbeam is a small to medium-sized, slow-growing, deciduous tree or shrub. The tree is densely branched and has ornamental catkins in the spring. As a tree, it can measure from 20-25 feet tall. As a shrub, it measures 12-15 feet tall. The leaves are smaller, and the bracts are unlobed on the fruit clusters on this species, which distinguishes the Oriental Hornbeam from the European Hornbeam and American Hornbeam. Oriental Hornbeam is a member of the Betulaceae or Birch Family.

The tree or shrub is native to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It was first introduced in 1735. The wood from this tree is hard and was used in the past to make handles for tools and small household items. It is now used as firewood and for charcoal.

The genus name, Carpinus, is Latin for "hornbeam." The species name, orientalis, means "from the Orient." The common name, Hornbeam, is derived from "horn," meaning hard, and "beam", meaning tree in Old English. 

Oriental Hornbeam prefers part shade to full shade. It will tolerate full sun. It is tolerant of organic-rich and rocky soils. The tree is low maintenance and drought and pollution tolerant once established. It may regenerate from root suckers and is highly resistant to wildfires.

The leaves are glossy, dark green, and small. They are oval to elliptic in shape and have doubly serrated margins. The male and female catkins appear in the spring. The female catkin produces a nutlet with unlobed bracts on the fruit clusters. 

Oriental Hornbeam may be used as an attractive ornamental or understory tree for shaded woodlands. It may also be considered for use as a hedge or shrub. Unfortunately, it is not available commercially in the United States.

 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:

This tree has no serious insect or disease problems. Gypsy moth and processionary moth may be seen.  Leaf spots, canker, and twig blight may occur.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#drought tolerant#shrub#slow growing#low maintenance#air pollution tolerant#hedges#catkins#nutlet#medium size tree
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#drought tolerant#shrub#slow growing#low maintenance#air pollution tolerant#hedges#catkins#nutlet#medium size tree
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carpinus
    Species:
    orientalis
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In the past, the wood from the tree was used for making tool handles and small items for the home. It has also been used for firewood and making charcoal.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Western Asia and Southeastern Europe
    Distribution:
    Native: Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungry, Iran, Italy, Krym, North Caucasus, Romania, Sicily, Transcaucasus, Turkey, and Yugoslavia
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    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
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The female catkin produces a nutlet with unlobed bracts on the fruit cluster. The nutlet measures 1/16 inches long.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are male and female catkins appear in the spring. The male catkin is 1/2 inch to 3/4 inches long. The female catkin is 1 3/16 inches to 2 3/8 inches long. The female catkin has a coarsely toothed ovate bract. The bract measures 5/8 to 7/8 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are smaller than other species and measure 1 to 2 inches long and 0.5 to 1 inch wide. They are glossy green, oval to elliptic in shape with a rounded base, and have double serrated margins. The leaves have 12-15 pairs of veins, and silky down is found on the upper and undersides of the leaf on the midribs. The fall leaf color is insignificant and ranges from a shade of yellow or red.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Design Feature:
    Screen/Privacy
    Street Tree
    Understory Tree
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Pollution