Carpinus caroliniana

American hornbeam

  • © J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

Outstanding Qualities

Carpinus caroliniana is a versatile and tough tree that tolerates the shady understory conditions of a woodland or the poor compacted soils of the urban landscape. This elegant, slow growing tree has attractive smooth gray bark and a fluted, crooked trunk with a distinctive muscle-like appearance. The thin paper-like foliage turns lovely scarlet and orange in the fall. This tree is easy to grow and has no serious pests or disease problems.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 40 ft. 0 in. (12.19 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 50 ft. 0 in. (15.24 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 9

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light to deep shade

Water Requirements: drought tolerant when established

Resistant to: deer

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: dark green, variegated

Great Color Partners: silver, orange, red

Culture Notes
This slow growing hornbeam will do best in full sun or light to deep shade. It is not fussy about soil as long as it is well-drained and it will tolerate sandy and clay situations. Once established it is very drought tolerant. Pruning is needed only to remove dead, broken or poorly formed limbs.
Geek Notes
American hornbeam is native to the extreme southwestern portion of Quebec and southeastern tip of Ontario, Canada as well as the mid-west, northeast, and southern United States to northern Florida, but not quite to the Gulf Coast. In addition, there are populations found in southern Mexico, Guatemala, and western Honduras.