Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Family: Betulaceae
Carpinus betulus L.
Common hornbeam, European hornbeam

Black tag 247
54o 34.997N
5o 55.912W

The common hornbeam is native to most of Europe including Southern England, but not to Ireland. While it grows well here, it did not reach Ireland naturally after the last ice age. Superficially, its appearance is somewhat like beech, both in leaf shape and the grey colour of the bark. However, the leaves are more distinctly toothed than those of beech and the trunk is almost always twisted and grooved. The example (shown below) in Belfast Botanic Gardens is one of the largest hornbeams in the North of Ireland and may well date back to the founding of the Gardens. There are a number of cultivars of this species including a fastigiate one which is becoming common as a small tidy street tree.

Common hornbeam in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Branching pattern in common hornbeam

Carpinus betulus in Belfast Botanic Gardens Common hornbeam

Common hornbeam bark

Common hornbeam leaves

Grooved and twisted trunk of common hornbeam Common hornbeam leaves

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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