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Carpinus caroliniana

Object Details

Description
The American hornbeam has two other common names which describe the hardness of its wood and the sinew-like fluting of its trunk and older branches: ironwood and musclewood. The relatively small size of this tree means that its hard wood is not used commercially, but it was used by early pioneers to make bowls, tool handles, yolks, and other objects that would need to withstand abuse. As the name “hornbeam” suggests, its wood would take a horn like polish.
Hardiness
-40 - 30 F
Attracts
Butterflies
Bloom Time
February
Ethnobotanical Uses
Used by early Americans to make bowls, tool handles, ox yokes, and other small, hard, wooden objects.
Provenance
From a cultivated plant not of known wild origin
Range
E Canada to SE USA
Habitat
Understory of bottomland mixed-hardwood forests, 0-2200 meters
Topic
Trees
Living Collections
See more items in
Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection
On Display
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Accession Number
2017-0463A
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Common Name
American Hornbeam
Iron Wood
Ironwood
Musclewood
Blue Beech
Water Beech
Group
[vascular plants]
Class
Equisetopsida
Subclass
Magnoliidae
Superorder
Rosanae
Order
Fagales
Family
Betulaceae
Genus
Carpinus
Species
caroliniana
Life Form
Deciduous tree
Average Height
20-30'
Bloom Characteristics
Male catkins are 1-2.5" long, female catkins are slightly shorter.
Fall Color
Orange; red; yellow
Foliage Characteristics
Simple, alternate, oblong green leaves with double serrated margins. 1-4" long.
Fruit Characteristics
Nutlets surrounded by 3-winged leaf-like bract. Many nutlets hang together in a pendulous chain, and change from green to brown in September-October. Each is .5-1" long.
Structure
Oval
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ax7f5530155-d1ef-4699-b696-a19786dcd278
Record ID
ofeo-sg_2017-0463A
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
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