Carpinus betulus, or Hornbeam, is a very popular tree and is widely distributed throughout all the northern temperate regions which makes it native to Britain.
A very attractive tree, it has smooth twisty bark which is very tactile. Hornbeams can be sculpted into a variety of shapes, (with careful pruning) and hedging . You can find them pruned into a ball on a stem or even pleaching. We don’t do any of that. Here at New Wood Trees, we grow Carpinus betulus as a multi-stem and aim to create a great canopy to sit or plant under. This also makes for an effective screen, as we’ve pruned the canopy to start at the height as most fences. Interestingly, pruning the canopy regularly will make the tree retain some of their dried leaves in winter. This adds to the screening effect to hide you from unwanted views or nosey neighbours!
Hornbeam is similar in appearance to Fagus sylvatica (Beech), but on close inspection you will notice the leaves have serrated edges and are not smooth. They’re more easily identifiable in the winter as the buds rounded, unlike the pointy buds of the Beech.
For another deciduous tree that’s great for screening have a look at our Acer campestre.
Leaves: Deciduous, leaves like Beech with more ridged veins.
Bark: Smooth light grey that can have some characterful twists.
Autumn colour: Yellow-orange turning brown, often remaining on the tree until spring.
Ultimate height: 20m
Uses: A very robust tree, which makes a beautiful umbrella shaped multi-stemmed tree. Especially when pruned regularly.