27. AMERICAN HORNBEAM
blue-beech, ironwood, water beech
Carpinus caroliniana Walter
|American hornbeam is a small-sized, bushy tree, found frequently along watercourses and the edges of swamps generally throughout the state. It is rarely more than 6 inches in diameter. The wood is very heavy, hard, strong, close-grained, and is occasionally used for mallets on account of its hardness.|
|Bark - smooth,
thin, dark bluish gray in color, close-fitting, with smooth, rounded lengthwise ridges
that resemble tensed muscles.
Twigs - very slender, dark red in color, and shining.
Winter buds - terminal bud absent; lateral buds small, often angled in cross-section, narrowly ovate, pointed, covered with many reddish brown scales.
Leaves - simple, alternate, ovate, 2 to 4 inches long, finely and doubly serrate on margin.
Fruit - a small prominently ribbed nutlet, 1/3 inch long, enclosed in a 3-lobed leaf-like bract. Bracts with their enclosed nutlets are in long, drooping clusters which ripen and fall before winter.
Distinguishing features - "muscles" in bark; fruit a nutlet enclosed in 3-part "dress."