Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K. Koch
Eastern Hophornbeam, Ironwood, Hophornbeam
The “hop” in hophornbeam comes from the resemblance between its fruits and those of hops. Hophornbeam and hornbeam are both named for their extremely durable wood, the only woods strong enough to make yokes for oxen, but they have little else in common and are not related.
Identification: Trees are 20-30' (6.1-9.1 m) in height, with loose strips of peeling bark that is reddish- to gray-brown. Flowers are catkins, narrow drooping structures. Male catkins are ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) long; female catkins are ¼-½" (8-15 mm) long. Leaves are unlobed, alternate, 1¾-5" (5-13 cm) × 1½-2" (4-6 cm), with double serrations on the edges. Leaf tops are yellow-green, bottoms pale green. The fruits are brown nuts ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-5 mm) long, in conelike drooping clusters enclosed in white papery sacs.
Hornbeam and hophornbeam are unrelated and quite different in appearance:
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|Plant||Small tree, to 20-30' (6.1-9.1 m). Bark reddish brown to gray brown, in loose strips.||Trees reach 33-49' (10-15 m), and often have multiple stems. Bark is smooth, dark bluish gray, furrowed near the base in older trees. The trunks are often fluted with vertical depressions that look a little like rippling muscles.|
|Flowers||Male catkins are ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) long; female catkins are ¼-½" (8-15 mm) long||Female flowers are white; male are green—both occur on the same tree.|
|Leaves||Unlobed, alternating, 1¾-5" (5-13 cm) × 1½-2" (4-6 cm), with double serrations on the edges. Tops are yellow-green, bottoms are pale green.||Dark green, alternate, 1-4½" (3-12 cm) long, with prominent parallel veins and fine serrations or double serrations.|
|Fruit||Brown nuts ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-5 mm) long, in conelike drooping clusters enclosed in white papery sacs.||A small ribbed nut ¼-⁵/₁₆" (7-8 mm) long, surrounded by a three- to seven-pointed leaf group called an involucre, ¾-1" (2-3 cm) long. The involucres occur in clusters, and remain on the tree after other leaves drop.|
USDA Zones: 3-9
USDA Zones: 3-9
|Habitats||River banks, swamp edges, flood plains, in fertile soil, both moist and dry||Rich wet soils such as floodplains, swamps, or mucks|
Ostrya virginiana on Carolina Nature, from Will Cook
Ostrya virginiana at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Cofrin Center for Biodiversity
Ostrya virginiana at the University of Connecticut Plant Database
Ostrya virginiana on Wikipedia
Ostrya virginiana at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Ostrya virginiana on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Ostrya virginiana on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Ostrya virginiana on hort.ifas.ufl.edu (PDF)
Ostrya virginiana on eFloras
Ostrya virginiana description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 15 Oct 2013.
Range: Zones 3-9: