Highfield Park Tree Trail: Number 22

Latin/Botanical Name: Carpinus betulus

Range: Native to most of Europe

Height: up to 30m, but usually less

Uses: Hornbeam timber is extremely hard and strong, and has been used for furniture, flooring, butchers’ chopping blocks and cogs for windmills and water mills. In Hertfordshire it has been coppiced and pollarded for poles and for making charcoal.

Description: A rounded deciduous tree, with a twisted trunk, branches are brown-grey and twigs slightly hairy. Leaves are a similar shape to beech leaves – oval, toothed and with pointed tips, but hornbeam are smaller and more deeply furrowed with serrated edges. It is monoecious with male and female catkins on the same tree. The fruits, known as samaras are papery and green winged.

Interesting fact: The name hornbeam comes from the hardness of its timber – ‘horn’ means ‘hard’ and ‘beam’ was the name for a tree in old English.