Carpinus caroliniana Walt.

  • Family: Betulaceae (alders & birches)
  • Common names: blue beech, American hornbeam, musclewood

    Small tree to 9 m (30 ft) tall and 20 cm (8 in) in diameter. The trunk is usually ridged or fluted. Twigs thin, brown, hairy when young. Buds small, glabrous, brown, with numerous small scales. Leaves alternate, ovate, 5-11 cm (2-4.3 in) long and 2.5-6 cm (1-2.4 in) wide, acuminate, rounded and usually slightly uneven at base, doubly serrate, with numerous parallel side veins, glabrous and dull blue-green above, light green below. Staminate catkins single at ends of twigs, thin, drooping, 3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 in) long, with many small greenish flowers in early spring before leaves appear. Pistillate catkins single at ends of twigs, cylindrical, 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) long, with several small paired reddish-green flowers. Fruits in clusters 5-10 cm (2-4 in) long, with several egg-shaped greenish hairy nutlets about 6 mm (1/4 in) long, each with a leaflike 3-pointed bract about 2.5 cm (1 in) long. Bark thin, bluish-gray, smooth.

    Distribution: Native to about the eastern third of the U. S. west to southeastern Oklahoma.
    Habitat: Understory of floodplain forests.
    NWI status: FAC
    Comment: Carpinus is the old Latin name for hornbeam; caroliniana refers to its discovery in the Carolinas.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/8/99
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