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Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana

Other common name(s):

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

Family:

Betulaceae (Alder Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes, Western Gulf Coastal Plain
Northern Humid Gulf Coastal Prairies
Flatwoods, Floodplains and Low Terraces3, Pleistocene Fluvial Terraces, Red River Bottomlands, Southern Tertiary Uplands, Tertiary Uplands

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form

Tree

Height

20
to
30
ft.

Spread

20
to
30
ft.

Leaf Retention

Deciduous

Lifespan

Perennial

Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Loam, Acid, Well Drained, Moist

Light Requirement

Part Shade, Shade

Water Requirement

Medium

Native Habitat

Woodland, Wetland or Riparian

Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

Red, Green, Brown

Bloom Season

Spring

Seasonal Interest

Fall Color, Seeds, Nectar, Larval Host

Wildlife Benefit

Butterflies, Birds, Small Mammals

Maintenance

Works best as an understory tree in low, shady places, though it will adapt to drier, sunnier sites. It will tolerate periodic flooding. Leaves are occasionally attacked by black mold. Slow growing, don’t prune. Propagation: Seed.

Comments

Blooms March-May. Multi-trunked tree with smooth bluish gray bark with bulges that look like muscles. Leaves resemble elm leaves, double-toothed edges, yellow fall color. Nutlets have 3-lobed bract like an umbrella over it, turn orange or brown in fall and dangle in chain-like clusters. Hornbeam and ironwood refer to the extreme hardness of wood. Birds and mammals eat seeds, catkins, and inner bark. Larval host: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, Striped Hairstreak.

References

1) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas. 2) https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=CACA18. 3) https://portal.torcherbaria.org/portal/taxa/index.php?taxon=Carpinus+caroliniana&formsubmit=Search+Terms. 4) http://bonap.net/TDC/Image/Map?taxonType=Species&taxonId=4955&locationType=County&mapType=Normal. 5) Wasowski and Wasowski, Native Texas Plants Landscaping Region by Region, 1991, pg. 281. 6) https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=19504#null