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 10Â°C. The hornbeam likes light or semi-shade. It likes hot summers but does not appreciate a drought.
Average annual rainfall of at least 800Â 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 1,300Â 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 20Â 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 30Â cm to 1Â 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 woodâs 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.