Carpinus betulus

9 Apr

Carpinus betulus in Full Leaf (12/06/2011, London)

Carpinus betulus in Full Leaf (12/06/2011, London)

Position: Full sun but will tolerate partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained

Flowering period: Early spring

Eventual Height: 25m

Eventual Spread: 20m

Hardiness: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a

Family: Betulaceae

Carpinus betulus in spring (05/04/2011, London)

Carpinus betulus in spring (05/04/2011, London)

Carpinus betulus is a deciduous tree with a pyramidal habit. It has smooth, fluted grey bark and ovate doubly serrate mid-green leaves. The trunk will become fluted with age and the overall shape of the trees canopy will become more rounded. The leaves have prominent veins giving a distinctive corrugated texture similar to Fagus sylvatica. The foliage of the juvenile tree becomes a golden orange-brown in the autumn and will remain on the tree until the new growth in spring. The inflorescence is in the form of catkins, which are yellow in the male and greenish in the female. In the female these will be followed by racemes of green fruit with prominent, 3 lobed bracts which will mature to a yellow brown.

Carpinus betulus spring leaf (05/04/2011, London)

Carpinus betulus spring leaf (05/04/2011, London)

Carpinus betulus, commonly known as Hornbeam, is native to much of Europe including Turkey, Ukraine and England. It has historically been used for firewood, as it pollards well and regenerates quickly, it also burns slowly at a high temperature. It is also called Ironwood and is used for making tool handles, as construction materials and was the traditional raw material for making wooden-axled cartwheels and gears in early machinery.

Carpinus betulus fruit (12/06/2011, London)

Carpinus betulus fruit (12/06/2011, London)

The etymological root of the binomial name Carpinus was the ancient Latin name for this species. Betulus is derived from the Latin name for Birch, this plants catkins resembles those of the Birch.

Carpinus betulus can be used by the landscape architect as a specimen tree and forms an excellent hedge. Because this plant retains its juvenile leaves in the winter and regular trimming of ensure all new growth is juvenile, hedges of this species perform the function of an ‘evergreen’ barrier with green leaves in the growing period and brown leaves during the winter months. It can be pruned hard and as consequence is a valuable tree which can be managed for pollarding purposes.

Carpinus betulus autumn (01/11/2011, London)

Carpinus betulus autumn (01/11/2011, London)

Ecologically, Carpinus betulus will attract some species of Lepidoptera, whose larvae will feed on its leaves.

Carpinus betulus prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Carpinus betulus forms an excellent specimen tree and little maintenance is required. When employed as a hedging plant it should be pruned back at least once a year in late summer, as well as helping to define the hedge shape it will ensure the plant retains its winter leaves.

Davis Landscape Architecture


One Response to “Carpinus betulus”


  1. Carpinus turczaninowii | landscape architect's pages - 29/09/2015

    […] etymological root of the binomial name Carpinus was the ancient Latin name for Carpinus betulus. Turczaninowii is after Nikolai Turczaninow (1796 – 1863), a Russian […]

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