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Carpinus caroliniana

Carpinus caroliniana Walter

 

American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFagalesBirch, she-oak, beech, walnut, bayberry, others
FamilyBetulaceaeBirch family: birches, alders, hazels, hornbeams and hop-hornbeams
GenusCarpinusPossibly from Latin carpentum, a horse-drawn Roman vehicle with wheels made from hornbeam
Speciescaroliniana“Of or from the Carolinas”

About plant names...

American hornbeam is native to eastern North America. Its white, very hard wood was prized for ox yokes and tool handles by American colonists, though the relatively small size of the trees limits its commercial use today.

Hornbeam and hophornbeam are unrelated and quite different in appearance:

 

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

4/23/2016 · Big Tree/Porcupine Trail, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, MA

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/13/2011 · Great Falls State Park, Washington, DC
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.8 × 6.6 cm)

 
Ostrya virginiana
You are here
Carpinus caroliniana
Common Name

Eastern Hophornbeam

American Hornbeam
Plant Small tree, to 20-30' (6.1-9.1 m). Bark reddish brown to gray brown, in loose strips. Trees reach 33-49' (10-15 m), and often have multiple stems. Bark is smooth, dark bluish gray, furrowed near the base in older trees. The trunks are often fluted with vertical depressions that look a little like rippling muscles.
Flowers Male catkins are ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) long; female catkins are ¼-½" (8-15 mm) long Female flowers are white; male are green—both occur on the same tree.
Leaves Unlobed, alternating, 1¾-5" (5-13 cm) × 1½-2" (4-6 cm), with double serrations on the edges. Tops are yellow-green, bottoms are pale green. Dark green, alternate, 1-4½" (3-12 cm) long, with prominent parallel veins and fine serrations or double serrations.
Fruit Brown nuts ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-5 mm) long, in conelike drooping clusters enclosed in white papery sacs. A small ribbed nut ¼-⁵/₁₆" (7-8 mm) long, surrounded by a three- to seven-pointed leaf group called an involucre, ¾-1" (2-3 cm) long. The involucres occur in clusters, and remain on the tree after other leaves drop.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-9

USDA Zones: 3-9
Habitats River banks, swamp edges, flood plains, in fertile soil, both moist and dry Rich wet soils such as floodplains, swamps, or mucks
Type Wild Wild

 

Identification: Trees reach 33-49' (10-15 m) (rarely 66' (20 m) in height, and often have multiple stems. Bark is smooth, dark bluish gray, furrowed near the base in older trees. The trunks are often fluted with vertical depressions that look a little like rippling muscles. Leaves are dark green, alternate, 1-4½" (3-12 cm) long, with prominent parallel veins and fine serrations or double serrations. Female flowers are white; male are green—both occur on the same tree. The fruit is a small ribbed nut ¼-⁵/₁₆" (7-8 mm) long, surrounded by a three- to seven-pointed leaf group called an involucre, ¾-1" (2-3 cm) long. The involucres occur in clusters, and remain on the tree after other leaves drop in the fall.

Online References:

Carpinus caroliniana on Carolina Nature, from Will Cook

Carpinus caroliniana on Wikipedia

Carpinus caroliniana at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Carpinus caroliniana at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Carpinus caroliniana at the USDA Forest Service's Silvics of North America site

Carpinus caroliniana at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Carpinus caroliniana at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Carpinus caroliniana on Wikimedia Commons

Carpinus caroliniana on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Carpinus caroliniana on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Carpinus caroliniana at Illinois Wildflowers

Carpinus caroliniana on CalPhotos

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/26/2017 · Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/23/2017 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 5 × 7" (13 × 18 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

1/1/2012 · Big Tree Trail • Tudor Richards Natural History and Forest Trail, Hollis, NH
≈ 12 × 17" (29 × 44 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

1/1/2012 · Big Tree Trail • Tudor Richards Natural History and Forest Trail, Hollis, NH
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/13/2011 · Great Falls State Park, Washington, DC
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

7/24/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 7 × 10" (16 × 25 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

11/30/2014 · James River, Midlothian, VA
≈ 19 × 28" (47 × 71 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/23/2017 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 3 × 4" (7.5 × 10 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/13/2011 · Great Falls State Park, Washington, DC
≈ 4½ × 6" (11 × 15 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 3 Jul 2017.

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Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

1/1/2012 · Big Tree Trail • Tudor Richards Natural History and Forest Trail, Hollis, NH
≈ 12 × 17" (29 × 44 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/28/2017
≈ 4½ × 7" (12 × 16 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

Hornbeams don't have acorns!!! Looks like the acorns fell from another tree. · 9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

7/27/2016 · State Arboretum of Virginia, Boyce, VA

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

11/30/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 31 × 46" (78 × 117 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/28/2017
≈ 6 × 4" (16 × 11 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

11/30/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

7/24/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 7 × 8" (16 × 21 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/22/2017 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

7/27/2016 · State Arboretum of Virginia, Boyce, VA

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood)

6/13/2011 · Great Falls State Park, Washington, DC
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Range: Zones 3-9:

About this map...