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.
Carpinus betulus 'asplenifolia'
cut-leaf common Hornbeam

Tag ?-
54deg 350N
5deg 56W
This tree was described previously on this website as Carpinus orientalis. 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 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. It 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. It is an attractive tree with some amazing examples of self-grafted branches. This is quite common in some species and is called inosculation - Wikipedia has a description and lots of photos. The 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
leaf and fruit bract of Carpinus betulus 'asplenifolia' inosculation or self-grafting of branches of the cut-leaf hornbeam

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

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