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Carpinus

Hornbeam
Betulaceae
Deciduous, Trees

Well-behaved, relatively small shade trees. Long life and good habits as street trees. Slow to moderate growth rate. Very hard, tough, heavy wood. Dark green, sawtooth-edged leaves color up in cold-winter climates, hang on late in season. Fruits (small, hard nutlets in leaflike bracts) are carried in attractive drooping clusters to 5 in. long. Mature trees need little or no pruning.

Carpinus betulus
Carpinus betulus

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Carpinus betulus

Native Europe to Iran. Dense, pyramidal tree to 40 ft. high and eventually as broad as tall, with drooping outer branches. Purple or yellow fall color.

Carpinus caroliniana

Native to eastern North America. Round headed, to 25–30 ft. tall and wide, sometimes larger; can be single- or multitrunked. Smooth blue-gray bark has undulations that look like muscles flexing. Leaves turn mottled yellow and red (sometimes mostly yellow) in fall; ‘Native Flame’ leaves turn red. All drop ahead of C. betulus. Succeeds in full sun to heavy shade.

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