How to identify a hornbeam tree

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how to identify a hornbeam tree

How do you identify a hornbeam tree?

Wondering if you are looking at a hornbeam tree? Your clues are their leaves, buds, catkins and seeds. Here’s what they look like at-a-glance:

hornbeam leaf
hornbeam buds
hornbeam catkins
Hornbeam seeds

Hornbeam tree facts

Hello! In today’s guide we are going to learn how to identify a hornbeam tree. Are you ready? Let’s get started! Here are a few hornbeam facts:

  • Common name: Hornbeam
  • Latin name: Carpinus betulus
  • Family: Betulaceae

Hornbeam trees can grow up to 30 meters tall, live for over 300 years and can be found growing in woodlands and sometimes in old hedgerows.

hornbeam leaf

Hornbeam leaves

Hornbeam leaves are oval, with pointed tips, deep furrows and doubly serrated.

hornbeam buds

Hornbeam buds

Their buds are thin, brown, slightly curved and lie close against the twig.

hornbeam catkins

Hornbeam catkins

Male catkins are loose and scaly with dark points on each scale. The female flowers are fluffy and light pink.

Hornbeam seeds

Hornbeam seeds

Hornbeam seeds are small, cupped and surrounded by three-lobed papery wings.

Trees that look similar to hornbeam

hornbeam leaf

Hornbeam leaf

beech leaf

Beech leaf


Beech leaves look similar to hornbeam leaves, but are larger, smoother and have smooth, wavy edges.

Hornbeam tree uses

  • Medicinal – Hornbeam has traditionally been used as a tonic and astringent
  • Bushcraft – Hornbeam wood burns well when making fire
  • Wildlife – Hornbeams area valuable food source and shelter for many birds, small mammals and insects.
  • Industry – The wood of this tree is extremely hard and durable for wheels, floors and furniture
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