top of page

Native Plant of the Week: American Hornbeam

Family: Betulaceae

Name: Carpinus caroliniana

Bloom Time: March-May

Flower: Golden yellow catkins

Fruit: Nutlet

Fruit Harvest Time: Fall

Soil Condition: Moist, occasionally wet, handles a good amount of drought, well drained

Light: Partial shade to full shade

Size: 20-30' tall by 20-35' wide

Native Range: Eastern United States including Long Island

Zone: 3-9

The American hornbeam is a spectacular tree for shady spaces and an excellent tree for wildlife habitat and food. Golden yellow catkins in the spring become edible nutlets in the fall. It is monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant) so no need for a partner. The fall color is lovely orange and burgundy. It is a slow grower putting on about twelve inches of growth per year.

Photo (KMS Native Plants: foliage

Maintenance: Almost no maintenance. It will need deep watering once a week during drought conditions. It tolerates drought but does not want to be consistently dry. It also performs well as a living fence. Of course, then it will need regular pruning.

Benefits: Host plant to Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, and Striped Hairstreak butterflies. Nectar source. Excellent wildlife food source. Moderately deer resistant. Black walnut tolerant. Resistant to urban conditions and wind.

Fun Facts: European settlers used wood for bowls and dishes, ox yokes, and tool handles.

Companion Plants: Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel), Lindera benzoin (spicebush), Cornus florida (common dogwood), Carex pensylvanica (oak sedge)



38 views0 comments


bottom of page