Hornbeam Carpinus betulusBritish Grown
CARPINUS BETULUS - Hornbeam
Hornbeam a native large tree though probably only truly native in the South and East of England as one of the last of the species to arrive from continental Europe. A tree with a maximum height of 25m (80ft) though often less, it is upright when young but eventually forms a rounded elongated head. The leaves are oval and similar in size and form to Beech though with more prominent veins and rougher to the touch.
Where to grow
Hornbeam will grow well in full sun or shade. It will quite happily cope with damp or wet soils, and even with a certain amount of temporary waterlogging, making it a suitable alternative to Beech in such situations.
It stands up well to hard pruning, has dense foliage and has been used more for hedges and topiary than as a woodland tree.
Did you know?
Hornbeam is a hard, heavy and tough timber with a number of uses, it can be pollarded, used as hedging and makes good firewood.
Possibly the most interesting use of this hard bony timber is for the intricate parts of pianos which convey the movement of the keys to the hammer.
- Mature height
- Very Large - 20 metres+
- 15-20 meters
- Round Headed
- Growth rate
- Soil type
- All soil types
- Sun levels
- Full sun
- Partial shade
- Difficulty/hard to grow
- Season of interest
- Autumn colour
- Early to Leaf
- Small leaves
- Native Hedge
- Holds its leaves
- Moisture levels
- Wet/Water logged sites
- Good for Windy sites
- Parkland Tree
- Garden Tree
- City/Urban Sites
- Used for Pleaching
- Good Firewood
- Timber producing
- Wind break
- Suitable for Topiary
- Sound Barrier
Pruning Carpinus betulus
Tree: Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) is a fast growing upright tree, rounding with age. Prune out any stems that are crossing or damaged, but otherwise no pruning is necessary. If needed to control size, it will generally respond well to hard pruning.
Hedge: Allow the hedge to grow to the required height and then prune annually to maintain shape. Hedges are usually grown up to a width of about 2ft (60cm), often with a slight taper so the bottom is wider.
Handheld pruning shears or secateurs will allow you to cut stems and avoid cutting through leaves, but may not be practical to use on a large hedge. A piece of string tied between two canes can help you to cut a straight line.
The upper part of the hedge tends to be more vigorous and will therefore need heavier pruning than the lower part.
When should I prune? Trees can be pruned from late summer through to midwinter. Avoid taking off branches earlier in the year as this can lead to bleeding.
For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.
The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water. It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree. In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.
One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass. When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree. It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one metre wide completely free of grass. The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:
- Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup. Apply each year for the first 3 years. It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
- Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this. This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.
Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem. Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.
If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree. Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm. The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots. Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.
Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.
- 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
- 100/125, 125/150 1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
- 150/175 1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
- 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
- All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.
Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping. These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens. Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.
Protection from Animal Damage
Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees. Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge. Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.