Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is a relatively small hardwood tree very similar to Common Beech. It has extremely hard timber.

  • Hornbeam Tree  -  Carpinus Betulus  -  Mature Tree
  • Hornbeam Tree  -  Carpinus Betulus  -  Leaves
  • Hornbeam Tree  -  Carpinus Betulus  -  Winter Stems And Buds

Useful info about Hornbeam trees

Latin NameCarpinus betulus
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 10 - 20 metres (35 - 65 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 15 - 20 metres (50 - 65 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Limestone, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Hedgerows, Patios
FlowersCatkins in spring
FruitSmall nuts in summer / autumn

Similar Species


Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is a relatively small hardwood tree very similar to Common Beech.

The common English name of "hornbeam" derives from the hardness of the wood (likened to horn) and the Old English "beam", meaning tree.

Hornbeam is often mistaken for a Common Beech but can be told apart by the long ribs on its bark, its toothed leaves and its much shorter buds.

It is more drought tolerant than Common Beech so is starting to be planted in hedges where Common Beech has been traditionally used.

The leaves are deciduous, alternate, and simple with a serrated margin, and typically vary from 3–10 cm in length. The flowers are wind-pollinated pendulous catkins, produced in spring. The male and female flowers are on separate catkins, but on the same tree (monoecious). Hornbeam leaves become golden yellow then orange before falling in autumn.

The bark is smooth and grey, with snaky patterns, on a ribbed trunk.

Hornbeam is a small to medium sized tree, typically 10–20 metres tall but occasionally reaching 30 metres.

It is native to most of Europe except for Ireland, northern Britain and most of Scandinavia.


Hornbeam has the hardest and strongest timber of any tree in Europe. Before iron-working hornbeam was used to make huge cog wheels in windmills and watermills.

It is often used in parquet flooring.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

Hornbeam trees are believed to represent longevity, strength, and growth.

Click here to dedicate a tree to be planted in a woodland in England, Scotland or Wales

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