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. 'Asplenifolia'
cut-leaf common hornbeam

Black tag 85
54o 34.986N
5o 56.061W
This tree was described previously on this website as Carpinus orientalis. Closer examination of the fruit and particularly the bracts around the fruit (see photo below), make it clear that this is a form of the common hornbeam. The bracts also clearly distinguish it from the hop hornbeam. The fruit bracts of C. orientalis are not three-lobed. It seems most likely that this is the form of common hornbeam called 'Asplenifolia'. The other cut-leaved hornbeams C. betulus 'Incisa' and C. betulus 'Quercifolia' both have smaller leaves than the species. This is a very rare form not listed in most reference sources. It is described in the RHS dictionary of Gardening, but is not mentioned in the Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs. This is an attractive tree with some amazing examples of self-grafted branches, quite common in some species and called inosculation - Wikipedia has a description and lots of photos. Our Botanic Gardens tree produces very good autumn colours. It was nominated for a regional Tree of the Year in 2019.
Carpinus betulus asplenifolia tree

Carpinus betulus asplenifolia fruit

Carpinus betulus 'Asplenifolia' in Belfast Botanic Gardens Fruit clusters of Carpinus betulus 'Asplenifolia'

Carpinus betulus asplenifolia leaf

Carpinus betulus asplenifolia trunk

Leaf shape of Carpinus betulus 'Asplenifolia' Part of the massive trunk
fruit bract of Carpinus betulus incisa self-grafting or inosculation in Carpinus
leaf and fruit bract of Carpinus betulus 'Asplenifolia' inosculation or self-grafting of branches of our cut-leaf hornbeam

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2007 and 2019. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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