Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) - samaras close up - September 2017
A Hornbeam tree in the Hill Barton industrial estate of Exeter, UK. === Hornbeam is a deciduous broadleaf tree native to the south of the UK, but widely planted elsewhere. It is often confused with common beech, the bark is pale grey with vertical markings, sometimes with a short, twisted trunk, which develops ridges with age. The twigs are brown-grey and slightly hairy and the leaf buds are similar to beech only shorter, and slightly curved at the tips. Mature trees can reach a height of 30m and live for more than 300 years. The name hornbeam comes from the hardness of its timber - ‘horn’ means ‘hard’ and ‘beam’ was the name for a tree in old English. C. betulus is a large deciduous tree developing a fluted grey trunk. Leaves 5-8cm long, ovate, conspicuously ribbed, turning yellow in autumn. Catkins open in spring, followed by hop-like fruiting catkins to 8cm Hornbeam is monoecious, meaning male and female catkins are found on the same tree. It is naturally found in oak woodland, and is often coppiced or pollarded. Only two species occur in Europe, the greatest number of the 30-40 species can be found in east Asia. Hornbeam is the food plant for caterpillars of a number of moth species, including the nut tree tussock. Finches and tits and small mammals eat the seeds in autumn. A tonic made from hornbeam was said to relieve tiredness and exhaustion, and its leaves were used to stop bleeding and heal wounds. Hornbeam timber is a pale creamy white with a flecked grain. It is extremely hard and strong, and so is mainly used for furniture and flooring. Traditional used for the wood included ox-yokes (a wooden beam fitted across the shoulders of an ox to enable it to pull a cart), butchers' chopping blocks and cogs for windmills and water mills. It was also coppiced and pollarded for poles. Hornbeam burns well and makes good firewood and charcoal. It makes a great addition to any park or public open space. === Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Rosids Order: Fagales Family: Betulaceae Genus: Carpinus
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