Carpinus betulus L.

Common hornbeam, European hornbeam

Family: Betulaceae
54º 34.997N
5º 55.912W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

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.

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