Boone County Arboretum
9190 Camp Ernst Road
Union, Kentucky 41091
Phone: (859) 384-4999
Fax: (859) 384-6888

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Cultural Details for Carpinus caroliniana

Common Name:
American Hornbeam, Blue-beech, Ironwood, Musclewood, Water-beech

Growth Rate:
Small to medium, multi-stemmed, bushy shrub or single-stemmed tree with a wide-spreading, flat or round-topped (often irregular) crown. Slow growth rate (8-10’ over a 10 year period)

Average Mature Height:

Average Mature Width:

Flower Details:
Monoecious- male and female flowers on same plant; male 1-1.5” long not ornamentally important; female yellow-green catkin, 2-4” long on a 3-lobed 1-1.5” long bract, the middle lobe the widest (1” diameter), toothed. Blooms in April

Fruit Details:
Small, ribbed, seed-like nutlet, borne at base of 1-1.5” long, 3-lobed bract, about 1” long; the middle largest; numerous nutlets are held together in pendulous chain-like clusters, entire infructescence 2-4” long. Changing green to brown Sept-Oct.

Fall Color:
Yellow, orange, red and reddish purple in the fall.

Bark Details:
Smooth, thin, dark bluish gray, close fitting, sinewy, fluted with smooth, rounded, longitudinal ridges; wood-heavy and hard.

Disease / Insect Problems or Resistance:
Leaf spots, cankers, twig blight, maple Phenococcus scale, two-lined chestnut borer.

Native Habitat:
Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to Florida and Texas. Introduced 1812.

Other Features:

Culture and Care:
Performs best in deep, rich, moist, slightly acid soils although will grow in drier sites; does well in heavy shade and is often found as an understory plant in forests; Difficult to transplant - move in winter to early spring;

This plant was blooming:

Plantings of this cultivar at Boone County Arboretum:
8782, 8783

    The information on this page may have come from one or more of the following sources:
  • Dirr, Michael. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Stipes Publishing. 1998.
  • Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America. John Wiley & Sons. 1988.
  • North Carolina Extension Plant Fact Sheets.
  • University of Connecticut Plant Database.