American Hornbeam

The American hornbeam can be found growing along streams in moist alluvial soils in the wild or as a shade tree in residential landscapes. The tree has distinct bark that has muscle-like fluting and is therefore sometimes also called musclewood. Its leaves are deep green, teardrop shaped, and sharply toothed. This tree attracts game birds, songbirds, and small mammals.

Family: Betulaceae (Birch)

Characteristics:  The 2-5 ½ inch long leaves are ovate, sharply toothed, and deep green with prominent veins. In the fall, leaves turn yellow to red-purple. In the spring, before leaves emerge, flowers begin to appear as long, droopy, yellow-brown male catkins or smaller, green, upright female catkins. This species has distinct brown-black buds. Bark is steel-gray, smooth, and has distinctive muscle-like fluting. This tree is upright and spreading and has a round to flat-topped crown. It grows 20-30 feet high and wide.

Foliage: Deciduous (leaves lost seasonally)

Geographic Origin: Eastern North America (native)

Cultivation Notes:  Requires low maintenance. Does best in full sun to part-shade. Prefers acidic, moist, and well-drained soils.

Number on Campus: 4

Sources: Dirr, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden

 

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