Carpinus betulus

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Carpinus betulus
Carpinus betulus - Hunsrück 001.jpg
European Hornbeam in summer
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Carpinus
Species: C. betulus
Binomial name
Carpinus betulus
Carpinus betulus range.svg
Distribution map

Carpinus betulus, commonly known as the European or common hornbeam, is a hornbeam native to Western Asia and central, eastern, and southern Europe, including southern England.[1] It requires a warm climate for good growth, and occurs only at elevations up to 600 metres (1,969 ft). It grows in mixed stands with oak, and in some areas beech, and is also a common tree in scree forests. Hornbeam was also known as 'Yoke Elm'.[2]

Description[edit]

European Hornbeam seed catkins
Old hornbeam coppice stools left uncut for at least 100 years. Coldfall Wood, London

It is a deciduous small to medium-size tree reaching heights of 15–25 metres (49–82 ft), rarely 30 m (98 ft), and often has a fluted and crooked trunk. The bark is smooth and greenish-grey, even in old trees. The buds, unlike those of the beech, are 10 mm (0.39 in) long at the most, and pressed close to the twig. The leaves are alternate, 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long, with prominent veins giving a distinctive corrugated texture, and a serrated margin. It is monoecious, and the wind-pollinated male and female catkins appear in early summer after the leaves. The fruit is a small 7–8 mm (0.28–0.31 in) long nut, partially surrounded by a three-pointed leafy involucre 3–4 cm (1.2–1.6 in) long; it matures in autumn.

The wood is heavy and hard, and is used for tools and building constructions. It also burns hot and slowly, making it very suitable for firewood.[3] This was the reason for lopping and hence indirectly the saving of Epping Forest, where the hornbeam was a favoured pollarding tree.

Hornbeam was frequently coppiced and pollarded in the past in England. It is still infrequently managed using these traditional methods, but mainly for non-commercial conservataion purposes. As a woodland tree traditionally managed in this way, it is particularly frequent in the ancient woodlands of south Essex, Hertfordshire and north Kent where it typically occupies more than half of most ancient woods and wood pastures[4].

The leaves provide food for some animals, including Lepidoptera such as the case-bearer moth Coleophora anatipennella.

There are a number of notable forests where C. betulus is a dominant tree species, among which are:

Ecology[edit]

In England, trees appear to prefer soils with a pH from 3.6 to 4.6 but tolerate upto 7.6. They are found on soils with moderate clay content and avoid soils with particularly high or low clay content.[4] Carpinus betulus likes full sun or partial shade[5], moderate soil fertility and moisture. It has a shallow, wide-spreading root system and is marked by the production of stump sprouts when cut back. Because it stands up well to cutting back and has dense foliage, it has been much used in landscape gardening, mainly as tall hedges and for topiary.

The seeds often do not germinate till the spring of the second year after sowing. The hornbeam is a prolific seeder and is marked by vigorous natural regeneration.

Cultivation & Uses[edit]

Carpinus betulus is wideley cultivated as an ornamental tree, for planting in gardens and parks throughout north west Europe. Both the species[6] and the cultivar C. betulus 'Fastigiata'[7] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Cultivars[edit]

There are several cultivars, notably:

  • C. betulus 'Fastigiata' or 'Pyramidalis', a very fastigiate tree when young, which has become a popular urban street tree in the United Kingdom and other countries.
  • C. betulus 'Frans Fontaine'[8], a similar fastigiate tree to 'Fastigiata'

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nhm.ac.uk/fff-pcp/glob.pl?report=pcfllist&group=&sort=&inpos=nr6
  2. ^ Brown, John (1816). Encyclopaedia Perthensis. 23. p. 364.
  3. ^ http://www.gardeningcentral.org/hornbeam_tree/hornbeam_tree.html Tree Profile for Hornbeam
  4. ^ a b Rackham, Oliver (2003). Ancient Woodland; its history, vegetation and uses in England (New Edition). Castlepoint Press. ISBN 1-897604-27-0.
  5. ^ https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/3136/i-Carpinus-betulus-i/Details RHS page on common hornbeam
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Carpinus betulus". Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'". Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Carpinus betulus 'Frans Fontaine'". Retrieved 5 September 2018.

External links[edit]