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Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

Hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) is a smallish tree that tolerates shade and provides year-round interest.

Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

The golden seed pods of the hop hornbeam tree resemble hops, hence its common name.

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.

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.

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