Carpinus caroliniana
American Hornbeam

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Rain GardenPart Shade
American Hornbeam
Carpinus caroliniana

American hornbeam is a terrific landscape tree for naturalized areas with rich, moist, slightly acidic soil. Male and female catkins are found on the same plant and emerge in early spring. The catkins provide food for many songbirds and are also a host plant and nectar source for a wide variety of butterflies such as; eastern tiger swallowtail, striped hairstreak, and red-spotted purple. Brown nutlets ripen the fall and provide food for ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasants, bobwhite, turkey, fox, and gray squirrels. During the autumn the deep green foliage turns yellow to orange and red.  In nature this tree is found in the understory so, it will tolerate a great deal of shade but will also perform well in sunnier sites. 

The catkins provide food for songbirds
Larval host and nectar source for many varieties of butterflies
Birds like wood thrushes and chickadee use the tree for nesting
Red, orange and yellow fall color
Excellent smaller tree for urban landscapes
Tolerates sunny sites and deep shade

Native Range

Native from Canada down through Texas and across to Florida. Typically found in rich moist woods, valleys, ravine bottoms and rocky slopes along streams.

Interesting Facts

American hornbeam is an extremely hard wood that was used by early settlers to make bowls, hand tools, longbows and walking sticks. It polishes well, to a horn-like luster, thus the common name.


Easy to grow, low maintenance tree. Consider it for rain gardens and bioswales, erosion control and stream bank stabilization.

Mature Size: 20-35ft. Tall x 20-35ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Sun Exposure: Part Shade

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