Ostrya virginiana

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American hophornbeam
Ostrya virginiana 2.jpg
Ostrya virginiana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Ostrya
Species: O. virginiana
Binomial name
Ostrya virginiana
(Mill.) K.Koch
Ostrya virginiana range map.jpg
  • Carpinus virginiana Mill.
  • Zugilus virginica Raf.
  • Ostrya italica subsp. virginiana (Mill.) H.J.P.Winkl.
  • Carpinus virginica Münchh.
  • Carpinus triflora Moench
  • Ostrya virginica (Münchh.) Willd.
  • Ostrya americana F.Michx.
  • Ostrya ostrya MacMill.
  • Ostrya baileyi Rose
  • Ostrya guatemalensis (H.J.P.Winkl.) Rose
  • Ostrya mexicana Rose

Ostrya virginiana (American hophornbeam), is a species of Ostrya native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Manitoba and eastern Wyoming, southeast to northern Florida and southwest to eastern Texas. Populations from Mexico and Central America are also regarded as the same species, although some authors prefer to separate them as a distinct species, Ostrya guatemalensis.[1] Other names include eastern hophornbeam, hardhack (in New England), ironwood, and leverwood.[2][3]

It is a deciduous understory tree growing to 18 m tall and 0.2–0.5 m trunk diameter. The bark is brown to gray-brown, with small shaggy plates flaking off. The leaves are ovoid-acute, 5–13 cm long and 4–6 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are catkins produced in spring at the same time as the new leaves appear; the male catkins are 20–50 mm long, the female 8–15 mm long. The fruit is a small nutlet 3–5 mm long fully enclosed in a papery white involucre 1–1.8 cm long, with 10–30 involucres on each catkin.[2]

Populations along the Atlantic coast have slightly smaller leaves, and are sometimes separated as O. virginiana var. lasia Fernald.

The buds and catkins are important source of winter food for some birds, notably ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus).

It is grown as an ornamental plant and is sometimes used as a street tree.

Its wood is very resilient and is valued for making tool handles and fence posts.

Being a diffuse porous hardwood and having extremely high density and resistance to compression, it is an excellent material for the construction of wooden longbows.

  1. Ostrya virginiana subsp. guatemalensis (H.J.P.Winkl.) A.E.Murray - central + southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador
  2. Ostrya virginiana subsp. virginiana - eastern half of United States, eastern Canada


A mature Ostrya virginiana 


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ a b Flora of North America: Ostrya virginiana.
  3. ^ Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008). Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas: 1-1576. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

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