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 and typically found in rich moist woods, valleys, ravine bottoms and rocky slopes along streams.  It typically grows 20-35′ tall.  The smooth, gray trunk and larger branches of a mature tree exhibit a distinctive muscle-like fluting that has given rise to another common name of musclewood for this tree. Flowers appear in spring in separate male and female catkins, with the female catkins giving way to distinctive clusters of winged nutlets. Serrated, elliptic-oval, dark green leaves often produce respectable shades of yellow, orange and red in fall. The extremely hard wood of this tree will, as the common name suggests, take a horn-like polish and was once used by early Americans to make bowls, tool handles and ox yokes.

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