American Hornbeam

Scientific Name: Carpinus caroliniana

American Hornbeam Tree

Bloom Dates

April

Attributes

Deciduous
Great Fall Color

Plant Family

Betulaceae

Origin

North America

Form

Multi-stemmed, wide spreading, flat-topped crown

Plant Size

20-30 feet tall, as wide or wider

Description

The American hornbeam is nicknamed "ironwood" because of the strength of its wood. It is also referred to as "musclewood" because of the trunk's resemblance to muscles. American hornbeams and European hornbeams were both planted early on in the Park's creation. The older, larger hornbeams tend to be European, while only American hornbeams are now planted in Central Park. Distinguishing between the two can be difficult and involves comparing bud sizes and fruit bracts, though the task becomes easier once fall arrives; the American hornbeam's wonderful, striking yellow-orange foliage differentiates it from the European hornbeam.

American Hornbeam Leaf

Leaves

2.5 inches long, 5 inches wide, alternate arrangement, yellow-orange in fall
American Hornbeam Fruit

Fruit

1 inch long nutlet subtended by a three-winged bract (irregular leaves); numerous nutlets held together in pendulous, chain-like clusters; color changes from green to brown, September through October
American Hornbeam Flower

Flower

Monoecious (male and female organs), 4 inch long female flowers attached to a three-winged bract (irregular leaves); bloom in April
American Hornbeam Bark

Bark

Smooth, gray, fluted base, vertical ridges, slender, hairy stems