Hornbeam is a good landscape tree, usually growing to about 40 feet tall. It has a pyramidal form while young but spreads out more at maturity. It is often heavily pruned for hedging and topiary effects. Oval, deciduous green leaves have toothed edges. The bark is a handsome gray, and the foliage turns yellow in fall.
How to grow: A tree that manages to grow well in difficult conditions, the hornbeam can be planted in practically any well-drained soil, moderately acidic to moderately alkaline, in full sun to light shade.
Uses: This species can be used as a small shade tree or kept small for screens, hedges, and patio containers.
Related species: The American hornbeam (C. caroliniana) is native to eastern North America and has bright yellow to orange-red fall color. It would be used more frequently, but it is hard to transplant.
Related varieties: Carpinus betulus Columnaris and Fastigiata have a tight, narrow form. There are also weeping and purple-leaved forms of hornbeam.
Scientific name: Carpinus betulus