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American Hop-hornbeam

Ostrya virginiana • Ironwood


American Hop-Hornbeam or Ironwood is a small under-story tree; it typically grows up to 18 meters tall. It is native to eastern North America and is often referred to as “ironwood”. American hop-hornbeam likes full sun or partial shade, it prefers slightly acidic soil and well-drained sites. It loves hilly areas, and in the wild, often grows in fairly dry, even rocky soil. The nuts are eaten by a variety of wildlife including grouse, bobwhite, deer, pheasant, rabbit and turkey.


Alternate, simple leaves are 2 to 6 inches long and half as wide; dark green above and paler below with small serrations. The leaves turn red-orange to yellow in autumn and fall early, feel like felt.


A small nut is enclosed in a dried, leafy, inflated sack, in hanging clusters. Fruits mature in late summer.


Mature bark is greyish-brown with narrow, peeling strips that are loose at both ends.


Male and female flowers are on the same tree. Males catkin in clusters of 3s (resemble birds toes), present throughout the winter. Females catkins are light green and appear in spring.

186 Trees

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