Carpinus Betulus (Hornbeam)– Hornbeam is a medium sized deciduous tree, growing up to 20-25 meters high in the UK. It boasts a large rounded canopy, which sits proudly on a fairly short trunk, giving Hornbeam a compact but prevailing appearance. Its ovate leaves are often confused with those of a beech tree, but can be distinguished by its toothed edges and deep furrows. In the autumn the leaves turn a golden yellow, gradually developing into a rich burnt orange, and being able to hold onto its leaves well into the winter, makes for spectacular year round colour as well as providing food and shelter for insects and nesting birds. Hornbeam can be found in a range of settings, from oak woodlands to gardens and parklands, as well as being used as a faster growing alternative to a beech hedge.
Fruit: It produces yellow male and female catkins. The female catkins produce small clusters of nut lets which are favoured by birds.
Timber: Traditionally, Hornbeam timber was not favoured by woodsmen who used hand-help sharp edged tools, as the timber was too hard. However, nowadays it is used for furniture making and flooring, favoured for its durability. It is also used to make boats, chopping boards, hand tools and coach wheels. Also makes good firewood, burning long, slow and hot.
Soil Types/Habitat: Grows best in moderately fertile, rich lowland soil with moderate moisture levels. Prefers shaded conditions.