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American Hop-hornbeam Ostrya virginiana

Phonetic Spelling
OSS-tree-uh vir-jin-ee-AN-uh
Description

Ostrya virginiana, or Hop Hornbeam, is a small and slender deciduous tree with a generally rounded top that may grow 20 to 35 feet tall and 7 to 10 inches in diameter, although some specimens can reach 50 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet. It is naturally found in dry, rocky forests. The leaves are alternate with a doubly toothed margin and fuzzy stem. The bark is smooth and reddish brown with horizontal lenticels in young trees. As the tree ages, the bark develops small plates and loose scales. In spring, yellow green, male and female slim, cylindrical flowers mature in clusters of 3. The small tree produces a small, ribbed nutlet.

A native deciduous shade tree (with a canopy spread of 20 to 30 feet) in the Betulaceae family, it gets its common name from the hardness of its wood and the hop-like fruit. It is commonly found scattered among the upland and mountain regions of North Carolina, although some larger specimens are found in deep, well-drained soils in mixed stands of bottom land hardwood. 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 and a row of Eastern hop hornbeam can be pruned to create an interesting hedge. 

It is easy to grow and succeeds in most soils, although it thrives in any good loam. It does not demand much light and prefers a deep open loam. A rather slow-growing tree, Eastern hop hornbeam is a small to medium understory tree. It tolerates drought and heavy clay soils making it low maintenance and appropriate for urban settings.  Plant in a lawn, along a driveway, street, or in a woodland garden. Note that the tree does not tolerate salt and would not do well in a seaside environment.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Pest Problems:

No serious insect or disease problems although gypsy moths can be a problem.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#shade tree#bark#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#low maintenance#street tree#showy fruits#lawn tree#showy bark#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#fire resistant#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#food source herbage#fruits#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon#woodlands
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#shade tree#bark#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#low maintenance#street tree#showy fruits#lawn tree#showy bark#food source#low flammability#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#fire resistant#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#food source herbage#fruits#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon#woodlands
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ostrya
    Species:
    virginiana
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The wood is strong, hard, and durable, and was once used for sleigh runners. Often used to make fence posts, fuel, and tool handles. The inner wood was used to treat toothache, sore muscles, and coughs by Native Americans.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America and Central America
    Distribution:
    Range from Florida west to Texas, northwest to Wyoming, north to Manitoba, east to Nova Scotia. Native to North Carolina.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Possible host plant for Red-spotted Purple and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies. Nutlets are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quail, and small mammals. Witches' brooms that commonly occur on this tree provide a home to many invertebrates eaten by songbirds, especially during winter.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Moderately resistant to deer damage. Resistant to fire but sensitive to soil compaction.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 8 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • 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
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    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 fruit is a 1/4 inch nutlet is enclosed in a dried, leafy, inflated sac.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers of the Hop Hornbeam are monoecious (male and female) catkins that appear on the same tree in April. The male appear as red-brown dropping catkins with scaly bracketed spikes formed from the previous summer; the female appear as light green erect catkins on new twigs. The flowers are not particularly showy, although the male catkins are more prominent and are present throughout winter.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Hop hornbeam features birch-like, oval to lance-shaped, sharply-serrated, dark yellowish-green leaves (to 5 inches long). The leaves turn an undistinguished yellow in autumn and often drop early.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Shaggy
    Bark Description:
    Finely divided into thin scales that peel away from the trunk. On mature trees, the bark is rough textured and grayish brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The tree top consists of long slender branches that may droop to the ends.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Compaction
    Deer
    Drought
    Fire
    Insect Pests