Carpinus betulus
Common Name: common hornbeam 
Type: Tree
Family: Betulaceae
Native Range: Europe, Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 30.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Description: Yellow (male) and green (female)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant


Easily grown in medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Needs little pruning when grown as a tree, but responds well to hard pruning if grown as a hedge. Best pruned during the period of late summer to mid-winter to avoid significant bleeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carpinus betulus commonly called European hornbeam is a medium-sized, deciduous tree that grows 40-60’ (less frequently to 80’) tall with a pyramidal to oval-rounded crown. Ovate, sharply-toothed, dark green leaves (to 5” long) are clean and attractive throughout the growing season with little susceptibility to foliar diseases. Foliage turns an undistinguished yellow to orange in fall. Monoecious flowering catkins form in early spring before the foliage emerges. Male catkins (to 1.5” long) are yellowish and female catkins (to 3” long) are greenish. Fruits are small nutlets in 3-lobed bracts that appear in drooping 5” long clusters in summer. Trunks have smooth gray bark and distinctive muscle-like fluting.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name.

Specific epithet is in reference to the birch-like (Betulus) characteristics of this species.

Common name comes from the extremely hard wood of this tree that will take a horn-like polish and was once used in Europe to make yokes for oxen (the beam between the ox horns).


No serious insect or disease problems.


Shade tree for lawns. Street tree. Prune as a hedge.