Common name: Hop hornbeam, eastern hop hornbeam, ironwood
Botanical name: Ostrya virginiana
Virtues: Relatively small size, tolerant of shade, tolerant of dry soils once established, interesting fruit. Year-round interest provided by its flowers, fruit, foliage, shape and bark.
Foliage: Medium green, toothed oval leaves that turn yellow in the fall.
Flowers: Hop hornbeam bears distinct male and female flowers, but on the same tree. Male flowers are red to brown; female flowers are green. Male flowers remain on the tree through the winter. Drooping seed pods replace the female flowers. These look something like hops.
Habit: Rounded deciduous tree, 25 to 40 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide. It has a thick, muscular-looking trunk and comparatively slender branches. Older bark hangs in strips.
Season: Year-round interest.
Origin: Deciduous woods of the eastern half of North America.
Cultivation: Grow in sun or shade. Its canopy will grow more dense in sun. Tolerates drought. Requires good drainage; does not tolerate flooding. Sensitive to salt; not recommended for seaside gardens. USDA Zones 3–9.