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.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Large tree (more than 40 feet),
- medium tree (25-40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Alkaline soil
- Moderately Tolerant
- Fall color,
- Persistent fruit/seeds,
- Attractive bark
Seasons of Interest:
- early winter,
- late winter,
- late summer,
- early fall,
- mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators,
- Small mammals
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
Emerald Avenue® European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'JFS-KW1CB'): 40 feet high and 30 feet wide with a broadly pyramidal habit. Good heat tolerance.
Frans Fontaine European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'Frans Fontaine'): 35 feet high and 15 feet wide with a narrow habit; maintains a fastigiate form longer than 'Fastigiata'.
Upright European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’): 30 to 40 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide; oval, narrow habit.