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Hornbeam and friend

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

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Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

The handsome, spreading Hornbeam tree looks very similar to Beech, although it's not related. It has an attractive fluted and sinewy trunk, and is consequently often used as a pleached tree or for espalier planting. It's a useful and unfussy tree, holding its leaves in winter in a formal  hedge (although not as a tree), which makes it very handy as a windbreak - an odd feature known as marcescence.

It also tolerates damp sites and surprisingly deep shade (which incidentally Beech will not). Hornbeam wood is amazingly tough (and will quickly blunt a chainsaw), hence it being known as "Ironwood", and burns well, hence another synonym, "Candlewood".

Hornbeam's natural range in the UK is in the South East, where it was managed by pollarding, although we have some beautiful specimens in local parkland in Somerset dating from the 19th century, when they were popular. Carpinus betulus thrives on heavy soils and works well to make a formal hedge on its own, or as a component of a mixed hedge. It is, consequently, good for privacy and for providing shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Plants For Sale

Provenance certificates are available on request for smaller size Hornbeam trees, which are from the Southwest of England.
Smaller Sizes Hornbeam Suppliers: Perrie Hale Forest Nursery, British Hardwood Tree Nursery
Standards Supplier: R.V.Roger

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Please note that standard sizes relate to tree girths in cm, and approximate to the Hornbeam's height in feet. See our planting and size guide for details and tips on planting.

All these Hornbeam trees are bare root, and are consequently available for delivery from November until March. During the lifting season there may be up to two weeks delay between placing the order and dispatching (longer for standards), due to weather conditions or pressure of orders, which are dealt with in date sequence. Orders for Hornbeams placed between March and September are confirmed in October ready for dispatch from November.


  • Ultimate Height


  • Ultimate Spread


  • Time to Ultimate Height

    Over 20 years


  • Type

    Clay, loam, sand, chalk

  • pH

    Neutral, acid, alkaline


  • Position

    Sheltered or exposed

  • Sunlight

    Full or partial sun