eastern hophornbeam
Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana

Secondary Names:

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A small or medium-sized forest tree, generally to 35 feet tall and a trunk 7" to 10" in diameter, with long, slender, drooping branches that form a rounded crown of fine twigs.

Range/Site Description:

A tree of the deep forest, found mostly on rather dry soils throughout the uplands in East Texas, but also in moist woods underneath taller pines and hardwoods.


Simple, alternate, 2" to 3" long, generally oval, sharply double-toothed along the margin, with a rounded leaf base and a pointed tip. Leaves are dull green on top, lighter beneath, and downy-pubescent on both sides; leaves turn yellow-gold in the fall.


Male and female flowers borne separately on the same tree; the male in drooping catkins which form in the fall and overwinter as 0.5" buds at the branch tips, then expanding in spring to 2" long. Female catkins are formed in spring on the new twigs, as upright catkins 0.25" long.


A light green cluster 1" to 2" long -- resembling common hops used for fermenting -- consisting of tightly packed leafy bracts, each containing the flat, ribbed nutlets.


Dark brown and tight on small branches, with horizontal lenticels; developing gray-brown, flaky scales on older trunks that peel away from the trunk in short lengthwise strips.


Strong, hard, durable, light brown, with thick, pale sapwood; used in the past for tool handles, golf club heads, mallets, and other small articles.

Similar Species:

American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) has smooth leaves on top and tight, blue-gray bark; in West Texas, Chisos hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana var. chisosensis) only occurs above 6,500 feet elevation near Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park, and Knowlton's hophornbeam (Ostrya knowltonii) is only found in the Guadalupe Mountains.

Interesting Facts:

Like American hornbeam, this species has no terminal buds so the new growth starts from a lateral bud each year, resulting in twigs that zig-zag slightly.

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