American Hornbeam

All About the American Hornbeam:

Scientific Nomenclature: Carpinus caroliniana

Common Names: American hornbeam, blue beech, ironwood, musclewood, muscle beech

Mature Height: 20–30 feet

Mature Spread: 20–30 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Attracts Wildlife: Birds and small mammals 

Messiness: This tree will drop its leaves in autumn, along with its fruits (a small nutlet). American hornbeam will flower in the spring.

Shape: Spreading/Round

Native to Kentucky: Yes

Preferred Soils: Does best in well-drained moist sandy soils or clay loams with high organic matter content. Acidic (<6.0pH) or neutral (6.0–8.0pH) soils are preferred. Hornbeam can be tolerant of drier sites and periodic flooding.

Screening: Though not typically used as a screening tree it can be pruned into a hedge or living fence if desired.

Drought Tolerance: Can be tolerant of drier sites but is especially susceptible to heat and drought.

Coniferous or Deciduous: Deciduous

Pruning: When planted naturally in a yard, very little pruning is needed other than to remove deadwood or damaged branches. If planted and used as a living fence or hedge regular pruning will be required to maintain its form.

Climate Quick Facts:

Following being planted as a sapling, over the next 20 years one American hornbeam will:

  • Sequester ~324 pounds of CO2.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff by 217 gallons.