American Hornbeam

American Hornbeam


Height: 20-35’ Spread: 20-35’ Habit/Form: Rounded Zones: 3-9 Growth Rate: Slow 

Cultural Requirements

An easy to grow tree, American Hornbeam prefers organically rich, moist soils. The tree grows best in partial to full shade situations, but will also perform well in sunny lawn settings.  American Hornbeam is a low maintenance, slow growing ornamental tree when planted in the right location. 

Ornamental Features

A beautiful small to medium sized ornamental tree, the American Hornbeam has a variety of desirable features. Another common name for this tree is Musclewood, because the most prominent feature is its bark.  The bark is smooth gray and sinewy in appearance resulting in it looking like flexed muscles. It can be found as a single stem or multi-stem tree. When it is a single stem, the tree will exhibit a uniform upright habit, making it a perfect lawn or street tree. However, if you would like to showcase its beautiful ornamental qualities, a multi-stem is the best option. Allowing the tree to grow in an open, irregular form further accentuates its unique bark. This tree flowers in spring having both male and female catkins. The papery hanging fruit that follows is an added interest throughout the summer and fall. The simple serrated leaves turn a brilliant yellow to orange-red in the fall, depending on sun exposure. 

Landscape Uses

A great small/medium sized tree that can be utilized in many planting situations; as a shade tree, lawn tree, in a naturalized area, or woodland setting. It is important to keep moisture in mind, however, when choosing a location for your Muscelwood as noted in the cultural requirements. 

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