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A picture of a Hornbeam


Carpinus betulus

Also known as

Common Hornbeam, European Hornbeam, Ironwood, Horn Beech, Horse Beech, Hurst Beech, White Beech, Yoke Elm, Charmille

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) - - 183626 by Penny Mayes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Full Sun
Moderate care
Light watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








30 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

More images of Hornbeam

Some green leaves from a Carpinus betulus tree
A large Carpinus betulus tree in a park
Some flowers from a Carpinus betulus tree
Some flowers from a Carpinus betulus tree
Some flowers from a Carpinus betulus tree

Hornbeam Overview

Carpinus betulus is also known by a few common names, including horn beech, horse beech, common hornbeam, European hornbeam and most often just hornbeam. This species is in the birch family, Betulaceae and it is native to the UK. The bark is pale grey in colour, with vertical markings and develops a ridged texture with age. The trunk may twist and branches are hairy and more of a brown-grey colour. Leaf buds are short and curve slightly at the tip. Leaves are oval in shape, with pointed tips and they are toothed along the margins, they also have a furrowed texture, appearing pleated. This deciduous species displays impressive autumn colouration, the leaves turning a bright golden-yellow to orange colour before they fall. Flowers are enclosed within catkin structures, adapted for wind pollination and this plant is termed monoecious and thus produces individual male and female catkins on the same tree. Female catkins develop into papery, winged fruits, these are termed samaras and they are green in colour, turning brown with age as they dry out. The winged fruits have three lobes and they contain a small nut seed, measuring approximately 0.3-0.6cm long.

Common problems with Hornbeam

How to propagate Hornbeam


Best sown outside as soon as ripe, in autumn, germination can take up to 18 months.


May be propagated through grafting in the winter.


Softwood cuttings may be taken in early summer.


The cultivars by budding in late summer.

Special features of Hornbeam

Autumn colour

Hedge plant

Other uses of Hornbeam

Specimen, banks, hedging, lawn

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