The American Hornbeam is a unique tree due to its tolerance of wet sites. It can withstand periodic flooding, extreme heat, and almost total shade. It’s fine-textured bark makes it a wonderful addition to any natural landscape.
The tree produces dark green leaves in the summer months that turn into a variegated orange and red in the fall. In northern climates, the contrast between falling snow and the blue-gray bark of the American Hornbeam is a sight to see.
- Attracts butterflies and songbirds
- Thrives in deep shade
- Shorter and stubbier tree and therefore ideal for smaller spaces
- Slate gray bark as it matures
- Tolerant of periodic flooding
Appearance: This tree is multi-stemmed, oval, and spreading with gray, smooth branches that have an irregular fluted appearance. Its leaves are oblong, simple, and alternate. The grow in between 3 to 6 inches long with a green surface, paler underside, and sharp teeth.
Planting Location: The American Hornbeam thrives in heavy shade and deep, rich, and moist soil. It can also perform well in sunnier areas.
Pruning: If left to its own devices, the American Hornbeam can form multiple trunks. If you would prefer it to have a single trunk, prune early. Other than that, prune only to remove any dead or diseased branches.
Uses on Property: The American Hornbeam is perfect for a natural landscape or specimen tree. It fits well in small yards and spaces but can be a delicate addition to vast landscapes as well. If trained well, it can work well as part of a hedge.
The American Hornbeam grows in areas with moist soil like river and creekbanks, and maritime forests. The American hornbeam is naturally found within the understory of maritime and hardwood forests, so it thrives in full to partial shade.
- Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 – 9
- Mature Width: 20 – 35
- Mature Height: 20 – 30
- Soil Conditions: Does well in sandy or clay loams with high organic matter, can tolerate slight alkalinity.
- Sunlight: Full shade or partial shade
- Drought Tolerance: Low