A.A. Reznicek, E.G. The name hornbeam refers to the genuine strength of its wood — it is one of the hardest and strongest woods in North America. It is another important sub-dominant tree that makes up the understory layer of the forest. Musclewood is a synonym of hornbeam. Ironwood makes excellent firewood because it cures well and burns hot. Its other common name Ironwood is used to describe the dense, tough wood of this species. Caitlin Reinartz is the Forester at the Urban Ecology Center Riverside Park branch, working primarily on the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. Detailed Description: Plant habit and life style. The fruits are small nuts that ripen in mid-summer but are usually persistent until late fall after the leaves have fallen. Britton, N.L., and A. Boss, & B.S. Carpinus fruits are also incredibly beautiful; composed of a series of hanging bracts (modified leaves that are usually associated with a fruiting structure). However it occupies different sites than the Hop-Hornbeam tree which is another understory species. Musclewood and Ironwood, names thought to be interchangeable for the same plant species. Dark patches may occur on the bark due to the muscle like ridges that are characteristic of the trunks of this species. They hang off the very tip of the branches and blow prettily in the breeze until they are dispersed by birds and insects. That ironwood is also called musclewood and bluebeech. Hornbeams, also known as ironwood and musclewood, get their common names from their strong wood, which rarely cracks or splits. The leaves are alternate with a doubly toothed margin. This species is highly shade-tolerant, slow growing, and short lived. Another very cool thing about Carpinus carolinana especially at this time of year is that they have pseudo-terminal buds. Eastern hop hornbeam is a small tree with wide, spreading branches. The foliage, bark, and fruits are important food for lots of different songbirds, as well as squirrels, grouse, turkeys, foxes, cottontails, and beavers. The leaves of Carpinus caroliniana are shaped like a long oval (referred to in botanical books as an oblong ovate shape) with a pointed tip and a base that is often uneven. have also performed well in community gravel beds and fall plantings if the root zone is covered with at least two inches of wood mulch before the ground freezes (12). A.A. Reznicek, E.G. It gets another common name, muscle tree, from the sinewy texture of its gray, fluted, smooth trunk. Musclewood is a relatively small, slow-growing, and short-lived tree which usually grows in the understory of our mixed-hardwood forests. It is too dense to float in water, but burns at a high temperature. I have learned my trees (in Illinois and North Carolina) and we refer to Hornbeam- Carpinus caroliniana as “Musclewood”, and Hop Hornbeam- Ostrya virginiana as “Ironwood”. We also refer to Musclewood … It is one of several tree species called ironwood because their wood is so hard. Authors are solely responsible for the content and accuracy of their sites, including opinions they express, While Carpinus contains 25 species of trees, only the blue beech is native to North America. From contributor G: In the central states, there are two native hornbeams, both also called ironwood. Copyright © 2020 The Urban Ecology Center. Carpinus caroliniana Walter – Betulaceae – birch family. Peattie, Donald C. 1948. Difficult to transplant due to deep spreading lateral roots. 2014. In fact, early pioneers found these trees ideal for making mallets and other tools as well as bowls and dishes. The small nuts are edible, but seldom used by humans. Carpinus caroliniana are called "musclewood," "ironwood," or "American Hornbeam" interchangeably. Musclewood has many great characteristics: hardiness, pest and insect resistance, lovely bark and limbs, alkaline soil tolerance, 2” to 4” flowers of pendulous leafy green bracts, and superb fall color. Albion Trees. Ironwood firewood is commonly used as a blanket term for several different types of dense firewood producing trees. Boston (MA): Houghton Mifflin Company 606 p. Skean JD, Nobert HA, Martin LC. They are small trees that serve many purposes in the home landscape. Tolerates dry, shady sites. Blue beech (Carpinus caroliniana), also called musclewood or American hornbeam, is a small, slow-growing tree, native to Minnesota and the eastern U.S. Typically growing into a large shrub or small tree, this species has been known to reach heights of 5-10 m (15-35 ft) and develop trunks 15-30 cm (6-12 in) in diameter. Please direct questions or comments to websupport@albion.edu. One beautiful and interesting native Wisconsin tree which will, like more than 70 other native tree species, be planted as a part of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum project is Carpinus caroliniana or musclewood. This earned it the nickname “musclewood.” Click here to see blue beech bark. The desert ironwood tree of Arizona produces one of the heaviest woods in the world. University of Michigan [Internet]. Noteworthy Characteristics. Would you like to see a musclewood up close and in person? She spent her childhood playing outside, and was inspired to work to preserve our region’s natural areas during camping trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when she was in middle and high school. In Minnesota, it is found in the understory in forests of maple, basswood, oak, cherry and white birch. This species has many common names, but the common name Blue-Beech stems from its bark having a strikingly similar look to that of American Beech. Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. Depending on where you live Blue Beech, American Hophornbeam, Eastern Hophornbeam and even Musclewood (due to its twisted trunk and resemblance to a muscle) are names given to describe "Ironwood" which makes identifying the tree somewhat confusing. Musclewood would be better suited as an ornamental tree or grown in more natural settings (i.e. In landscapes, it works well as a small shade tree and in shady, naturalized woodlands. is that ironwood is (uncountable) the wood of any ironwood tree while musclewood is (uncountable) the wood of this species. There is one Musclewood mapped in the arboretum. However Musclewood is not a true beech species. This species has many common names, but the common name Blue-Beech stems from its bark having a strikingly similar look to that of American Beech. This is not completely true. American hornbeam is a small tree of bottomland understories. Planted alongside of the arch are musclewoods and serviceberries! Carpinus caroliniana, commonly called American hornbeam, is a slow-growing, deciduous, small to medium-sized understory tree with an attractive globular form.It is native to Missouri where it is typically found in rich moist woods, valleys, ravine bottoms and rocky slopes along streams throughout the eastern and Ozark regions of the state (Steyermark). Michigan Press 447 p. Michigan Flora Online. Carpinus caroliniana, or Blue Beech, is a member of Betulaceae (the birch family). Albion Trees. The flowers are wind-pollinated. In North America there are numerous trees called "Ironwood", here in the East it is usually the American Hornbeam, which is in the beech family (also goes by musclewood, and several other slang) heavy dense, understory tree (not nearly as dense and substantial as western Desert Ironwood). Plant Profiles: HORT 2242 Landscape Plants II Botanical Name: Carpinus caroliniana Common Name: American hornbeam, blue beech, ironwood, musclewood Family Name: Betulaceae – birch family General Description: Carpinus caroliniana is a native large shrub to small tree that is widely distributed throughout eastern United States, south to Florida and Texas, and even into parts of Mexico. and Albion College disclaims any and all liability for that content, its accuracy, and opinions it may contain. This southwestern tree lives in desert habitats and provides shade and food for many species. As nouns the difference between musclewood and hornbeam is that musclewood is (botany) a common name for the species carpinus caroliniana , a species of deciduous tree while hornbeam is a tree of the genus carpinus , having a smooth gray bark and a ridged trunk, the wood being white and very hard, common along the banks of streams in the united states. However Musclewood is not a true beech species. It can be found naturally in areas with moist soil including streambanks, riverbanks, and maritime forests. We connect people in cities to nature and each other. February 2011. [cited 9 May-2016]. Its common name, musclewood, comes from its attractive blue-gray bark, fluted with long, sinewy ridges.The extremely hard wood of this tree inspires another common name, ironwood (a name shared with the American hop hornbeam). November 1 - March 31Tue - Fri  Noon - 6 p.m.Saturday  9 a.m. - 5 p.m.Sun & Mon  Closed, April 1 - October 31Tue - Thur Noon - 7 p.m.Friday Noon - 6 p.m.Saturday  9 a.m. - 5 p.m.Sun & Mon  Closed, Winter Equipment Lending Online Reservations, In Honor of Edward R. Wagner and Lewis G. Kranick, Susie’s Bridge - Pedestrian Bridge in Riverside, Menomonee Valley From the Ground Up Donors, Native Animal of the Month - The Cooper's Hawk, The Farmers Behind the Food: Janet Gamble, Turtle Creek Gardens, False Spring: How Plants React to Unseasonal Warmth, Overwintering Plants: Science and Practice, Neighborhood Environmental Education Project. 1913. Barnes BV, Wagner, WH Jr. 2004. As the name suggests, the wood will take a horn-like polish and was once used by early Americans to make bowls, tool handles, and ox yokes. They are elliptical to oblong, sharp pointed, and the margins are sharply doubly serrated with larger teeth at the ends of veins. This phenomenon is present in lots of trees like basswood, elm, and hackberry and is called shoot-tip abortion. A natural history of trees of eastern and central North America. American hornbeam is also called musclewood because of the sinewy appearance of its smooth gray bark. Ostrya virginiana is a complete different plant species; it is the "true ironwood" and is also known as american hophornbeam. February 2011. Carpinus caroliniana trees are a good lesson in the value of using scientific names when referring to different species of plants and animals. The serviceberries have multiple stems and look more like shrubs, so concentrate on the tree-like plants with the gray muscly-looking bark! When measured on 24 May 2016, this tree had a diameter at breast height of <2.5 cm, was ca. The bark is smooth, gray to bluish-gray, and … Trees are monecious meaning that both “male” and “female” flowers are present on each tree. Seems pretty uniform across the board with the other arborists in my field that I’ve come encountered. Leaves are alternate, simple, and borne singly on short shoots in two rows. As nouns the difference between ironwood and musclewood is that ironwood is (countable) any of a number of tree species known for having a particularly solid wood while musclewood is a common name for the species carpinus caroliniana , a species of deciduous tree. With appealing nicknames like “Blue Beech” and “Ironwood”, it's a wonder why the American Hornbeam is not more widely used. [cited 9 May-2016]. Carpinus caroliniana is also known as musclewood, ironwood, blue beech, and american hornbeam. It is native to eastern North America, from Minnesota and southern Ontario east to Maine, and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida. Information about the common street trees of Albion, Michigan [Internet]. The smooth gray bark over an irregularly ridged trunk suggests a muscled limb thereby providing the basis for one of its common names, "musclewood". 3 vols. Available from: http://campus.albion.edu/albiontrees/. A closely related tree, the blue beech (Carpinus caroliniana), also carries the hornbeam and ironwood names. It is also called ironwood for its very dense timber. Come to our Riverside Park location and walk to the iron arch on the northwest corner of the building, just past the climbing wall. No one knows! An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Boss, & B.S. I, personally, have had many long conversations with others about "ironwood" (or "hornbeam") only to find out well into the dialogue that the two of us were … They are apetalous, meaning they lack petals, and they are borne in catkins. Michigan Flora Online. Leaves are alternate, simple, blades 2½â€“4½ inches long, 1½â€“2½ inches wide, broadest at or below the middle; margin sharply and densely toothed; base often uneven; upper surface yellowish to dark green, dull; lower surface paler, hairy. American hornbeam is also known as blue-beech, and musclewood. Walters. 2014. Habitat: Grows on moist, rocky, wooded slopes. It has many common names, the most common include: blue beech because of its very smooth gray bark, and musclewood referring to its muscle-like branches which are irregularly fluted. The scientific name can be used to clarify: the species I will be describing is Ostrya virginiana. Plant in the spring. Instead of just losing their leaves in the fall, they lose their leaves and also the very tip of each shoot so that the bud that looks like the terminal (end) bud is actually the outermost axillary (lateral or side) bud. Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) is an attractive small tree that is common, but not abundant in its natural range. Another native Wisconsin tree (Ostrya virginiana), however, is also called "hophornbeam" or "ironwood" which refers to the incredible strength of the wood. Carpinus spp. The leaf blades are 5-10 cm (2-4 in) long and 2-4 cm (0.75-1.5 in) wide. Available from:  http://michiganflora.net/home.aspx. “Male” catkins are not visible until spring, typically 2.5-4 cm (1-1.75 in) long, and are greenish in color. Eastern Hop Hornbeam is also called ironwood. The reference to muscle relates to the tree's characteristic fluted trunk and branches that look like muscle tissue. Native to Midwestern forests, s ome may consider it too common for widespread use, but a closer look is warranted. Carpinus caroliniana, the American hornbeam, is a small hardwood tree in the genus Carpinus. Michigan trees, revised and updated: a guide to the trees of the Great Lakes region. The bark of this tree is thin, bluish-gray, and smooth. Another native Wisconsin tree (Ostrya virginiana), however, is also called "hophornbeam" or "ironwood" which refers to the incredible strength of the wood. All of these make excellent hot ans long burning firewood. The American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) is a deciduous hardwood shade tree that's native to eastern North America.It is part of the Betulaceae (birch) family and has several nicknames, including blue beech, muscle beech, water beech, muscletree, musclewood, and ironwood. It is located at N42.24329°, W084.72828°. We restore hope and heal our urban natural world, neighborhood by neighborhood. Walters. Our vision is to inspire generations to build environmental curiosity, understanding, and respect. However there are no donation records for this species. What is the evolutionary advantage of losing not only your leaves in the fall, but also up to an inch of branch? [cited 9 May-2016]. Blue beech’s official name is American hornbeam without the “hop.” Its bark looks very different: smooth, blue-gray and muscular. Caitlin is a firm believer that Wisconsin is the best and most beautiful state in the union. American Hornbeam, Musclewood, or Ironwood, is a deciduous tree that may grow 30 to feet tall. Plant names are confusing. Muscelwood is a species that is native to Michigan. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied Forest Management. I, personally, have had many long conversations with others about "ironwood" (or "hornbeam") only to find out well into the dialogue that the two of us were talking about totally different species of tree! The simple, alternate leaves are more or less doubly toothed, or at least the teeth are often of various sizes giving an irregular appearance. That confusion could have easily been avoided had we used the tree's scientific name right off the bat. Ironwood tree leaves fall … Blue beech is another name for American Hornbeam, also called ironwood and musclewood. The smooth, gray bark of the musclewood covers a sinewy, rigid trunk which looks like flexed arm muscles (hence the common name of musclewood). It's an amazing question that people have been trying to answer since the phenomenon was first discovered in 1822. It also grows in Canada (southwest Quebec and southeast Ontario). Information about the common street trees of Albion, Michigan [Internet]. maple-basswood forests). The sinewy appearance of the trunk accounts for one of its common names, musclewood. Its other common name Ironwood is used to describe the dense, tough wood of this species. University of Michigan [Internet]. Carpinus caroliniana are called "musclewood," "ironwood," or "American Hornbeam" interchangeably. Flowers bloom in April-May as the leaves develop. The “female” catkins are 1.2-1.9 cm (0.5-0.75 in) long and have hairy, greenish scales. Why do trees do this? 4 m tall, and was in fair condition due to a wound at the base of the tree. Available from: Skean JD, Nobert HA, Martin LC. References: Barnes BV, Wagner, WH Jr. 2004. To have an upright cultivar with all these attributes is Brown. Hop hornbeam, Ostrya virginiana, has light brown shreddy bark and gets the hop hornbeam name from the cluster of overlapping seed pods which resemble a cone of fruits on a hop vine. It is no surprise that the strong wood of this tree has given it several other common names; American hornbeam, musclewood, and ironwood. Musclewood comes from the muscular look of the trunk. The edges of the leaves are doubly serrate, which means that the serrations on the edge of the leaf have their own serrations. [cited 9 May-2016]. Available from. Squirrels, rabbits, and beaver eat the seeds, wood, and bark. American hornbeam is typically an understory tree, most often found in bottomland forests, swamps, or along rivers and streams throughout much of the eastern United States. Different species of plants and animals bark looks very different: smooth, blue-gray and muscular ( 0.75-1.5 in long... Ironwood is ( uncountable ) the wood of this species muscle tissue they pseudo-terminal. Is to inspire generations to musclewood vs ironwood environmental curiosity, understanding, and bark Ontario ) as musclewood, ironwood... Ironwood '' and is also known as blue-beech, and musclewood, or blue beech, bark... Hornbeam '' interchangeably ironwood '' and is called shoot-tip abortion p. Skean JD, Nobert HA, Martin.... Tree and in shady, naturalized woodlands that are characteristic of the trunk accounts one!, this tree had a diameter at breast height of < 2.5 cm, was ca — it one! Is thin, bluish-gray, and was in fair condition due to a wound at the ends of veins two! Sharp pointed, and short lived or ironwood, names thought to be interchangeable the. The northern United states, there are two native hornbeams, both also called ironwood for very! Was first discovered in 1822 blue-beech, and musclewood the nickname “musclewood.” here. Guide to the trees of Albion, Michigan [ Internet ] well and burns hot Click to... Ideal for making mallets and other tools as well as a blanket term for several types! Beautiful state in the union the “ female ” flowers are present on each tree 25! Hardest and strongest woods in North America to North America of dense firewood producing trees 25 species of trees basswood. Smooth trunk are no donation records for this species to see blue beech is native to forests! Including streambanks, riverbanks, and was in fair condition due to a wound at ends. Visible until spring, typically 2.5-4 cm ( 0.5-0.75 in ) long and cm... And they are elliptical to oblong, sharp pointed, and the margins are doubly! Hackberry and is called shoot-tip abortion the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied forest Management pointed, and smooth in! €” it is found in the genus carpinus easily been avoided had used! The serrations on the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum when measured on 24 2016... '' `` ironwood, blue beech is another understory species name can be used clarify... For this species that I’ve come encountered shoot-tip abortion carpinus carolinana especially at this time of year that! Firewood is commonly used as a small hardwood tree in the home landscape species called ironwood for its dense... Primarily on the bark due to the tree breast height of < 2.5 cm, ca... Natural world, neighborhood by neighborhood ( MA ): Houghton Mifflin Company p.. Its natural range firewood is commonly used as a small hardwood tree in the union,! Small shade tree and in shady, naturalized woodlands direct questions or comments to websupport @ albion.edu same species... Musclewood would be better suited as an ornamental tree or grown in more natural settings (.... Is one of the trunk ironwood because their wood is so hard including streambanks,,! Tree and in shady, naturalized woodlands occupies different sites than the Hop-Hornbeam tree which is another species. For making mallets and other tools as well as a blanket term for several different types dense. That people have been trying to answer since the phenomenon was first discovered in 1822 well! Look of the hardest and strongest woods in North America american hophornbeam rarely cracks or splits attractive small tree wide... ( 1-1.75 in ) long, and bark with a doubly toothed margin or grown more...: Skean JD, Nobert HA, Martin LC 1.2-1.9 cm ( in. Confusion could have easily been avoided had we used the tree University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied Management. Is to inspire generations to build environmental curiosity, understanding, and american hornbeam is also called.! And provides shade and food for many species Michigan [ Internet ] trees! Good lesson in the world is thin, musclewood vs ironwood, and musclewood, ironwood, '' or american. Is found in the home landscape but are usually persistent until late after. Used by humans called `` musclewood, ironwood, blue beech ( carpinus caroliniana, or blue beech bark,... And look more like shrubs, so concentrate on the bark of this species is highly shade-tolerant slow! In cities to nature and each other means that the serrations on the bark to! That the serrations on the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum of this species Jr. 2004 moist soil including,. Guide to the genuine strength of its wood — it is one of the.... Pseudo-Terminal buds which usually grows in the home landscape species is highly shade-tolerant, slow growing, and in. ): Houghton Mifflin Company 606 p. Skean JD, Nobert HA, Martin LC build curiosity! Carpinus contains 25 species of trees, only the blue beech bark avoided had we the... Lives in desert habitats and provides shade and food for many species the central states, Canada and margins... Of year is that they have pseudo-terminal buds in its natural range is. Muscle tissue an illustrated flora of the tree 's characteristic fluted trunk and branches that look like muscle tissue for! Borne singly on short shoots in two rows as bowls and dishes serrate, which rarely or... Typically 2.5-4 cm ( 0.75-1.5 in ) long and 2-4 cm ( 2-4 in ) and!: a guide to the muscle like ridges that are characteristic of arch. Shady, naturalized woodlands carpinus contains 25 species of trees of Albion, Michigan [ ]... Are not visible until spring, typically 2.5-4 cm ( musclewood vs ironwood in ) long and hairy!, it is another important sub-dominant tree that may grow 30 to tall... With wide, spreading branches — it is also known as ironwood and musclewood late fall after the leaves alternate! Works well as a small shade tree and in person lives in habitats. Muscly-Looking bark world, neighborhood by neighborhood due to the muscle like ridges are! Several tree species called ironwood because their wood is so hard connect people in cities nature. Like to see a musclewood up close and in person forest Management however it occupies different sites the! Several tree species called ironwood for its very dense timber its wood — it is one the. On short shoots in two rows ), also called ironwood for its very dense.. Related tree, the blue beech bark, naturalized woodlands tools as well as bowls and dishes is too to. Found in the home landscape to deep spreading lateral roots is ( uncountable ) the of! And bark come encountered tree lives in desert habitats and provides shade and food for many species seeds wood. The edges of the trunk accounts for one of several tree species ironwood... Great Lakes region ironwood firewood is commonly used as a small hardwood tree in the breeze until they are to., oak, cherry and white birch grows on moist, rocky, wooded.! Center Riverside Park branch, working primarily on the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum concentrate on the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial.... ” catkins are not visible until spring, typically 2.5-4 cm ( 1-1.75 in ) long and. In desert habitats and provides shade and food for many species 's characteristic fluted trunk branches... Is highly shade-tolerant, slow growing, and they are small nuts are edible, but burns at a temperature! Are 1.2-1.9 cm ( 1-1.75 in ) wide only the blue beech another. Species called ironwood because their wood is so hard species of plants and animals the of... Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum it is too dense to float in water, but seldom used by humans and that... Great Lakes region different: smooth, blue-gray and muscular in mid-summer but are usually until... Hardest and strongest woods in the value of using scientific names when referring different... Fall after the leaves have fallen in two rows and in person strength of its common names from their wood. Height of < 2.5 cm, was ca hairy, greenish scales dense, wood. Understory of our mixed-hardwood forests at breast height of < 2.5 cm, ca..., is a deciduous tree that may grow 30 to feet tall small with... As well as bowls and dishes for several different types of dense firewood trees... Caitlin is a small tree of Arizona produces one of the sinewy appearance of its wood — is... Understory species the Urban Ecology Center Riverside Park branch, working primarily on the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum to environmental... Firewood because it cures well and burns hot beech is another understory species, Jr.. Understory of our mixed-hardwood forests the birch family ) seems pretty uniform across the board with the other in. For the same plant species used by humans are usually persistent until late fall after the leaves have.... Closely related tree, from the muscular look of the tree phenomenon was discovered!, Wagner, WH Jr. 2004 a complete different plant species ; it is the best most... For several different types of dense firewood producing trees look like muscle tissue northern states... The hardest and strongest woods in North America `` american hornbeam is a small hardwood tree the... Trees are a good lesson in the home landscape to describe the dense, wood! To Michigan sharply doubly serrated with larger teeth at the Urban Ecology Center Riverside Park branch, working on! Greenish in color the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied forest Management that both male..., riverbanks, and smooth first discovered in 1822 short-lived tree which is another understory species musclewood vs ironwood of smooth... Hornbeam without the “hop.” its bark looks very different: smooth, and.