hornbeam Betulaceae Carpinus
Leaf: Alternate, simple, elliptical to ovate, 3 to 5 inches long, pinnately veined, tip acuminate, doubly serrate margin; waxy, smooth green above, paler below.
Flower: Species is monoecious; males catkins yellow-green, 1 to 2 inches long, hanging; female catkins yellow-green and fuzzy appearing from new branch tips, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, both appearing in mid to late spring.
Fruit: Small ribbed nutlet carried on a 3-lobed, slightly folded leafy bract that is 1 inch long (somewhat resembles a maple leaf), bracts are clustered on a long (4 to 6 inches) hanging stalk; ripen in late summer and fall, disperse through the winter.
Twig: Slender, somewhat zigzag, brown to gray in color; buds are brown, angled, with a tan silky edge to each scale (making the buds appear lined), approximately 1/4 inch or less in length.
Bark: Thin, smooth, gray to bluish gray regardless of age or size; trunk is fluted heavily, resulting in a muscular appearance.
Form: A small, nearly shrubby tree reaching up to 25 feet tall with a rounded crown and a twisted trunk.
Looks like: hophornbeam - hazel alder - Japanese hornbeam - European hornbeam
Additional Range Information: Carpinus caroliniana is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting hornbeam.
More Information: Fall Color
External Links: USDAFS Silvics of North America - USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson