The genus Carpinus includes the native C. caroliniana, American hornbeam and C. betulus, the common or European hornbeam, both common in the trade.
American hornbeam is a slow-growing, understory tree with an attractive globular form.
It typically grows 20-35' tall. The European hornbeam grows in full sun to part shade
and needs little pruning when grown as a tree, but responds well to hard pruning if
grown as a hedge; it is a medium-sized, tree that grows 40-60’ tall with a pyramidal
to oval-rounded crown.
Both trees produce flowers as separate male and female catkins, with the female catkins
giving way to distinctive clusters of winged nutlets. Leaves are dark green and can
produce respectable shades of yellow, orange and red in fall. Trunks have smooth gray
bark and distinctive muscle-like fluting. Upright, columnar forms are available.
Exposure: Full sun or light shade
Soil: Tolerates medium moisture, well-drained soils
Hardiness: USDA Zone 3-9 (4-8)