Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

HORNBEAM
Carpinus caroliniana
Betulaceae

Leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, thin, doubly serrate, elliptical to ovate and hairy underneath. Twigs are slender, zigzag, and red-brown. Buds are pointed and brown-maroon striped. Bark is gray, smooth, and fluted with a sinewy appearance. Fruit is a nutlet on a 3-lobed leafy bract. Form is up to 9 m (30 ft) in height. Hornbeam is an understory tree found on moist, well-drained sites in the eastern U.S. and is tolerant of shade. The wood is hard and pale and used for tool handles and bowls. The seed is eaten by turkey, songbirds and rodents.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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