Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

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We are surprised the Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is not more widely grown in Australia. It is a very common garden plant in England and does well in our garden in western Victoria. It is also known as European or Common Hornbeam (formerly Carpinus betula). Hornbeam is a deciduous tree that can be easily pruned and shaped for topiary, espalier, pleaching and hedges. The tips of the new growth have a lovely weeping habit. The wood of the trunk is extremely hard and can be polished until it resembles horn (hence its common name). The timber was used to make oxen yokes in Europe.

Its creased leaves turn a pale yellow in autumn and are then held on as brown leaves until spring when the new leaves push off the old. It offers the seasonal variation of autumn colour and retains its leaves to provide a screen over winter.

• Uses: ornamental tree, shade tree, specimen tree, street tree, topiary, espalier, hedge, pleach
• Size: 10-15 metres high depending on conditions
• Tolerances: can cope with pruning
• Features: yellow autumn foliage, attractive weeping habit of tips, easily shaped

Reference Lord, E. E. and Willis, J. H. (1982) Shrubs and trees for Australian gardens (5th End). Lothian Publishing Company, Melbourne.

Reference