American Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana

USDA Forest Service

American Hornbeam is a short, stubby tree that grows up to thirty feet tall. It can have one or more trunks, each a foot wide.

The leaves of this tree grow to four inches long and two inches wide. They are simple leaves with a pointed tip and teeth on the edges. These leaves turn orangish-red in the Fall.

American Hornbeams are usually an understory tree, meaning they grow beneath larger trees, such as oaks and maples. They also grow alongside of streams.

Copyright, Will Cook

Copyright, Will Cook

The bark of American Hornbeam is bluish-gray, thin, and fairly smooth.

Flowers are tiny greenish catkins, about one and a half inches long. They bloom in early Spring.

Fruits are oval-shaped, hairy, and green. They are small, only 1/4 inch long, and they hang in clusters from a shared stalk. Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Wood Duck, and squirrels eat these fruits.

White-tailed Deer and Eastern Cottontails munch on leaves and twigs, and Beaver eat the bark. Red-spotted Purple and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies use hornbeam as a host plant.

OPLIN

Copyright, Will Cook

Along with other trees and plants, American Hornbeam provides good cover and shelter for animals.

Some other trees that hornbeams grow next to, or under, include: Red Maple, Sweetgum, Willow Oak, American Sycamore, White Oak, Yellow Poplar, Loblolly Pine, American Beech, Flowering Dogwood, and American Holly.

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

Wild Turkey

American Robin

Red Maple

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Sweetgum

Northern Bobwhite

Red-spotted Purple

Willow Oak

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

White Oak

Wood Duck

Canada Goose

Yellow Poplar

Red-spotted Purple

Polyphemus Moth

Loblolly Pine

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Sharp-shinned Hawk

American Beech

Easter Cottontail

Flowering Dogwood

Beaver

American Holly

White-tailed Deer

American Sycamore

Polyphemus Moth

River Birch

Relationship to Humans:

American Hornbeam has the nickname "Ironwood" because its wood is so tough. This makes it difficult to work with, although people do use it to make tool handles, golf clubs, and mallets; as well as door panels on Rolls Royces. It also makes excellent firewood.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Magnoliophyta
CLASS
Magnoliopsida
ORDER
Fagales
FAMILY
Betulaceae
GENUS
Carpinus
SPECIES
Carpinus caroliniana

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