Carpinus - Hornbeam Trees
Hornbeam trees are native to the more temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere, including China and central Europe, and the Carpinus betulus is native the UK. The common name of 'Hormbeam' comes from the fact that the wood is so hard that it is likeable to the strength of a stag horn, and 'beam' was the Old English word for tree. The hardiness of the wood makes it perfect for extremely durable woodwork, like parquet flooring or gear pegs in traditional windmills. Despite its durability, the Hornbeam is not a popular choice with carpenters as the wood is too hard to work with for more intricate tasks. Hornbeam trees are monoecious, which means that the male and female catkins can be found on the same tree.
The leaves are alternate, ovate and doubly toothed with prominent veins which make the foliage highly distinguishable from other trees. The leaves are technically described as deciduous, but unusually the majority of the leaves change colour in autumn and hold on the tree over winter until the new shoots are ready in spring. This unusual attribute makes Hornbeams great hedging trees, as they still provide decent cover in the dormant period of winter. Many people train hornbeams as a pleached hedge, and they work really well in this way when trained above a fence.