With these characteristics: None
Hornbeam, American or Musclewood
Betulaceae - Birch
Leaves: Dull dark green to blue-green above, fall color yellow to red; hairless, sometimes shiny; pale green below; alternate; simple; egg-shaped to oblong, 2" to 5" in length, tapering to a slender point; somewhat rounded or heart-shaped, doubly and sharply toothed; 10-14 pairs of veins, veins beneath covered in soft hair, each vein ends in a tooth; petiole covered in fine soft hair and 1/4" to 1/2" in length; deciduous.
Twigs/buds: Twigs pale green early on; becoming gray, reddish-brown, or dark brown and shiny; hairless to hairy, slender; pith pale-colored. Buds red-brown to rusty black, somewhat hairy; small (1/8" to 1/4" in length), narrowly egg-shaped or oblong; no terminal bud; buds scaly; scales red-brown with white and downy edges, in four rows, overlapping.
Flowers/fruit: Flowers monoecious; occur with leaves; male (pollen flowers) pale yellow-green, held in a 1" to 1-1/2" in long catkin, on twigs from previous year; female catkin (seed flower) shaggy, on branch tips, in clusters; appearing in spring with leaves. Fruit a nutlet; brown, small (1/3"), egg-shaped, flat, 1-seeded, ribbed, unwinged; attached to a 3-lobed leafy samara or bract (1" to 1-1/2" in length), arranged in clusters or infructescences; infructescence pale yellow, 2" to 4-1/2" in length.
Bark: Bluish gray to slate gray; with pale and dark patches; thin, remaining smooth with age; distinctive fluted (grooved) trunk; ridges smooth, longitudinal, muscle-like (hence, the sometimes used common name ''musclewood'') or wavy; tough and stringy.
Wood: Unimportant; strong, heavy, hard; diffuse-porous; rays visible; used to make tool handles.
General: A native to most of the eastern U.S., it naturally tends to be an understory plant near streams and rivers. Does well in naturalized settings and moist soils. Grows from 20' to 30' tall with a wide-spreading canopy, often wider than tall. Has low branching and is often flat-topped. Withstands occasional flooding. Shade tolerant.
Landscape Use: One cultivar is available, yet it is commonly cultivated. A subtly beautiful tree, its leaves are thinner than European hornbeam's (C. betulus), with smaller buds which are not pressed to the stem, and a more effective, orange-yellow fall color. Sometimes mistaken for beech, it is also called blue beech. Zones 3-9.
Cultivar: 'Ball O' Fire', 'Firespire', 'Native Flame', 'Palisade'.
- Betulaceae - Birch
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