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American Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana

Seneca Name


Common Name

"Blue beech," "Ironwood," "Musclewood"


Earth is Our Mother Trail

GPS Coordinates

N 42°58.115' W077°25.352'

The American Hornbeam is a small, shrubby tree (30') that has one or more angled trunks and has slender, spreading branches with a broad, rounded crown. It has dull, dark blue-green elliptical leaves (2-4.5" long, 1-2.5" wide) that are saw-toothed. The leaves turn orange and red in the Fall. The bark is thin, smooth, and a bluish, gray. But the trunks of mature trees have distinctive smooth vertical ridges that give the trunk a look of musculature and hence one of its common names, "musclewood." The other common names of "hornbeam" and "ironwood" indicate that this tree has very hard and tough wood. This tree is usually found as an understory tree in moist, fertile woodland and stream settings.

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