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Ostrya virginiana

Common Name(s):
Eastern hop hornbeam, Hop horn beam, Hop hornbeam
Native Plants, Trees

Ostrya virginiana, commonly called American hop hornbeam, is a deciduous tree which usually occurs in dry soils on rocky slopes, upland woods, and bluffs. A small to medium-sized, understory tree with a generally rounded crown. It typically grows 25-40' tall with a slightly smaller spread.

A native deciduous shade tree in the Betulaceae family.  The leaves look similar to and can be confused with birch trees, and its overall form can sometimes be confused with an elm tree.  It has shaggy bark that provides winter interest.  Eastern hophornbeam is small to medium understory tree.  It is low maintenance and works well in urban settings, probably because it tolerates drought and heavy clay soils.  Plant in a lawn, along a driveway, street, or in a woodland garden.  It is sometimes referred to as "ironwood" because of its extremely hard and dense wood.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont

Seasons of Interest:

   Bloom: Spring, April  Fruit: Summer-Winter   Bark: Winter

Wildlife Value:  This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It is a possible host plant for the Red-spotted purple and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.  Its nutlets are eaten by songbirds, wild turkey, quail and other small mammals.  Witches broom that commonly occurs on this tree provides a home to many invertebrates eaten by songbirds, especially during the winter.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Pest Problems: No serious insect or disease problems.

This plant may be confused with: Betula lenta, Betula alleghaniensisCarpinus carolinianaAlnus serrulata

25-40 ft.
The flowers of the Hop Hornbeam are monoecious catkins that appear on the same tree in April, Red-brown (male), light green (female). The fowers are not particularly showy, although the male catkins are more prominent and are present throughout winter. Female catkins are followed by drooping clusters of sac-like, seed-bearing pods which, as the common name suggests, somewhat resemble the fruit of hops and persist from summer through winter.
The Hop Hornbeam grows easily in average soils, prefers well-drained soils, full sun to partial shade.
Rounded crown
Full sun, part shade, shade
1/4 inch nutlet is enclosed in a dried, leafy, inflated sac
20-30 ft.
The Hop hornbeam features birch-like, oval to lance-shaped, sharply-serrated, dark yellowish-green leaves (to 5" long). The leaves turn an undistinguished yellow in autumn and often drop early.
showy bark, songbirds, small tree, showy fruit, deciduous, low maintenance, street tree, bark, lawn tree, wildlife, butterflies, shade tree, woodland garden, native, drought resistant, deer resistant, clay soil

NCCES plant id: 3187

Ostrya virginiana Form
BotBln, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Ostrya virginiana Ostrya virginiana
BotBln, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Ostrya virginiana Leaf
Ostrya virginiana Male catkins, males are preformed catkins, 1/2 to 1 inches long, in clusters of 3's (resemble birds toes), present throughout the winter
Katja Schultz, CC BY - 2.0
Ostrya virginiana Fruits, resemble hops
Eric Hunt, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Ostrya virginiana Fruits
Fritzfhlorrenyolds, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Ostrya virginiana Fall color is an undistinguished yellow and leaves often drop early.
Katja Schultz, CC BY - 2.0