Carpinus caroliniana Walter
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAMES: American hornbeam, musclewood
  • LEAVES: alternate simple, ovate-oblong, bases rounded, tips acute; petioles short; margins doubly serrate; leaves two-ranked on twigs
  • FLOWER: imperfect, plants monoecious; inflorescences catkins for both sexes; male catkins are not pre-formed during the previous fall
  • FRUIT: nutlet at the base of a 3-lobed bract
  • TWIGS: zebra-striped buds
  • BARK: smooth, gray blue; fluted, looks muscular
  • FORM: small tree, to ca. 35’ tall and 8-10” in diameter
  • HABITAT: moist rich woods along small streams, mesic loamy soils, hardwood slope forests, small stream forest
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US, Ontario and Quebec [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: wood is very hard, used for tool handles, golf clubs, wedges, mallets; ornamental
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. small understory tree of mesic sites (especially along small streams) with fluted trunk (musclewood) and smooth light-medium gray bark
    2. lateral leaf veins prominent beneath, leaf margins double serrate
    3. fruit a nutlet subtended by a 3-lobed bract
    4. zebra-striped buds

    Compared to Ostrya, bluebeech has zebra-stripped buds, doubly serrate margins, and small nutlets borne on a three-lobed bract