European hornbeams are excellent in groupings around large buildings and also useful as screens, hedges, and windbreak trees. The European hornbeam has densely textured foliage and handsome, slate-gray smooth to fluted bark. The dark green leaves turn an attractive yellow in the fall, and the bark and buds are ornamental in winter.
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Zone 8
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Dry sites
- Alkaline soil
- Alkaline soil
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Early winter
- Mid winter
- Late winter
- Late summer
- Early fall
- Mid fall
Size and Form
40 to 60 feet high and 30 to 40 feet wide; pyramidal, becoming rounded at maturity
Tree & Plant Care
Adaptable to various soil pH.
Minimal pruning required.
Disease, pests, and problems
No serious problems
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Europe and Asia.
Bark color and texture
Smooth and steel gray, but having a muscled character to its appearance, older trees become more fluted.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Light brown nutlets, maturing in Oct., with a three-lobed bract appearing as an umbrella over the nuts; nutlets and bracts in dangling clusters.
Bracts change from light green to yellow in fall.
Cultivars and their differences
Upright European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’): 30 to 40 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide; oval, narrow habit.