Hornbeam is recognized by:
- Its fluted gray muscular trunks. Its gray bark, which is smooth while young.
- Its alternate deciduous leaves, with their serrated edge and deeply furrowed surface.
- Its fruits (achenes), which grow in clusters
- Its catkins that hang down in bunches
Sites favored by hornbeam
Average annual temperature of 10°C. The hornbeam likes light or semi-shade. It likes hot summers but does not appreciate a drought.
Average annual rainfall of at least 800 mm. Can still be affected by hydromorphy.
Hornbeam likes fresh, damp clayey and/or silty soils. It will thrive on chalk soils but does not do very well in acidic or hydromorphic soils. It is found up to 1,300 m altitude.
Root development of the hornbeam
- Shallow, running root development.
- Vulnerable to strong winds.
Growth and production of hornbeam
- Quite slow
Hornbeam is not planted as part of a single species plantation. There are very few pure hornbeam forests in France.
It is mainly found in coppices with standards, especially oak or beech (oak-hornbeam forests, or beech-hornbeam forests) due to its small size: it rarely exceeds 20 meters high. It is thus often found in mixed forests.
Otherwise, this species is very popular in gardens, where it is often planted as a tree tunnel or hedge. In this case, the plants are spaced 30 cm to 1 meter apart. Once the hornbeam hedge has developed, the new shoots simply need trimming to keep the hedge shape.
- Light white wood.
- Very hard, heavy wood (one of the hardest deciduous trees).
- Sawing can be difficult because of the wood’s hardness.
- Marked veining.
- The best deciduous firewood.
- Used in joinery, for parquet flooring, decoration and toys.
- Trade name: Hornbeam
Not affected by any major disease.
Hornbeam is highly sought for firewood as it is an excellent source of fuel.
However, there is not a large market among sawmills as it is very hard and not used much in construction.
It is widely appreciated by both novice and expert gardeners and hornbeam hedges are common.