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Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam)

American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, Water Beech, Musclewood, Ironwood

Carpinus caroliniana, American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, Water Beech, Musclewood, Ironwood, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree
Carpinus caroliniana, American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, Water Beech, Musclewood, Ironwood, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree
Carpinus caroliniana, American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, Water Beech, Musclewood, Ironwood, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree
Carpinus caroliniana, American Hornbeam, Blue Beech, Water Beech, Musclewood, Ironwood, Tree with fall color, Fall color, Attractive bark Tree
Carpinus caroliniana
Carpinus caroliniana

Attractive in all seasons, Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam) is a slow-growing, small to medium-sized deciduous tree of upright-spreading habit with a rounded crown. The branches are covered with ovate, serrated, and prominently veined leaves, 2-5 in. long (5-12 cm). Emerging reddish-purple in spring, the foliage turns dark green as the season progresses before turning shades of yellow to orange-red in the fall. The flowers appear in spring in separate male and female catkins. The female catkins are followed by distinctive clusters of winged nutlets. Hanging at the tip of the branches, they can be seen through late spring to early fall. In winter, the fluted blue-gray bark with long, sinewy ridges makes Carpinus caroliniana a lovely addition to the landscape. Native to eastern North America, American Hornbeam is a wonderful understory tree that is useful as a specimen or in groupings for shady landscapes. It is great for naturalizing along the edges of woodlands and streams or as a street or lawn tree.

American Hornbeam is a draw for various bird species, including the American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, and Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Its dense foliage and nutritious seeds provide essential food and shelter, making it a favored habitat for these avian visitors.

  • Grows up to 20-30 ft. tall and wide (6-9 m).
  • A full sun or part shade lover, this plant is easily grown in fertile, dry to moist, well-drained soils. Tolerant of full shade, but this tree is denser, and the fall coloring is best in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions including dry sites, wet sites, alkaline soil, and clay soil. Tolerates periodic flooding.
  • Perfect for shady landscapes and naturalized or woodland gardens.
  • Low maintenance, this plant does not need routine pruning. Remove diseased, damaged, congested, or crossing shoots.
  • No serious pest or disease issues. Keep an eye out for leaf spots, cankers, or twig blight.
  • Propagate by seed, softwood cuttings or by grafting.
  • Native to Eastern Canada and the United States.

Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Betulaceae
Common names Ironwood, Hornbeam, American Hornbeam
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Spread 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast, Midwest, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma
Tolerance Dry Soil, Clay Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
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Recommended Companion Plants

Quercus rubra (Red Oak)
Betula nigra (River Birch)
Ilex opaca (American Holly)
Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)
Amelanchier arborea (Downy Serviceberry)
Quercus virginiana (Live Oak)
Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum)
Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry)
Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolia)
Pinus taeda (Loblolly Pine)
Pinus echinata (Shortleaf Pine)
Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Betulaceae
Common names Ironwood, Hornbeam, American Hornbeam
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Spread 20' - 30'
(6.1m - 9.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast, Midwest, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma
Tolerance Dry Soil, Clay Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?

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