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Interesting Facts

Known for its very hard wood, it is sometimes known as "iron-wood". One source says it is native to east Asia, particularly China. Another source says the C. betulus is native to areas in Europe and the Middle East, and C. caroliniana is native to North America. C. betulus is suitable for creating hedges and pleached canopies.

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European Hornbeam   (Carpinus betulus)

C. betulus is native from Europe to Iran. It bears leaves that are 2 to 3" long and turn yellow or dark red in the fall.

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Plant Types: Perennial, Tree
Light: Shade to Full Sun
Height: 25 feet to 50 feet
Width: 25 feet to 50 feet
Zones: 4a to 8b
Bloom Color: White
Bloom Seasons: Early spring, Mid spring, Late spring
Leaf Color: Green
Special Features: Not North American native
Shape: Oval, Vase
Fertilizer: Miracle-Gro® Nursery Select Miracid® Water Soluble Plant Food
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Plant Care

If planting for use as hedges, plant saplings at least 8'-10' apart if you do not plan on pruning. If you plan to prune heavily, plant at least 3'-6' apart.

Plant Growth:

Hornbeams are deciduous trees that can reach as tall as 40 ft. tall and just as wide with time, though are typically 20'-30'. Good candidates for street trees, especially in cold winter climates. It also makes a good windbreak.


C. betulus produces brown-orange or red catkins, whereas the C. caroliniana catkins are yellow. They appear in spring.

Soil and Irrigation:

Requires regular water. Doesn't require specialty soil, though non-alkaline soils are preferable.


Needs little to no pruning. Young C. caroliniana saplings require special pruning to ensure upright growth. C. betulus can withstand heavy pruning to create hedges. C. caroliniana can as well, but not as well as betulus.


C. betulus can be subject to scales. C. caroliniana can be subject to canker, leaf spot and scales.