Botanical Name: Carpinus betulus
Common Name: European Hornbeam
Origin: Europe/W. Asia
Notable Feature: Because it stands up well to cutting back and has dense foliage, it has popularly been used in topiary gardens and for hedges.
Habit: A shade-loving, small- to medium-sized, deciduous tree. This rounded to oval rounded tree reaches a mature size of 40 to 60 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide.
Flower: Wind-pollinated male and female catkins appear separately on the same tree (monoecious). Male catkins are yellow-green and 1 to 2 inches long; female catkins are borne with more conspicuous, leafy bracts and are yellow-green and 2 to 3 inches long; both appear in mid to late spring.
Fruit: A small nutlet, 1/4 long, is borne at the base of the above described female bracts in summer and maturing in September to October. A prolific seeder with vigorous natural regeneration.
Foliage: Dark green in summer changing to yellow or a yellowish green in fall. Dense with alternate leaves, prominent veins, and serrated margins, 2 ½ to 5 inches long.
Bark: Smooth, steel grey, and beautifully fluted.
Interesting Fact: Common name comes from the extremely hard wood of this tree that will take a horn-like polish and was once used in Europe to make yokes for oxen. It also burns hot and slowly, making it a very suitable firewood.