Also known as Musclewood, Blue Beech, Water Beech, or Ironwood.
Mature Size: 20 to 30 feet in height and 8 to 12 inches in diameter.
Form: Small, bushy tree with a spreading top of slender, crooked or drooping branches.
Habitat: Rich soils on low slopes and along streams, ponds and lakes.
Alternate, simple, 2 to 4 inches, oval, long-pointed, doubly toothed along the edges.
Males in slender, yellow-green 1 to 2 inch hanging catkins; females in fuzzy yellow-green ½ to ¾ inch catkins on new branch tips.
4 to 6 inch hanging cluster of slightly folded, 1 inch, 3-lobed leafy bracts; each bract contains a 1/3 inch ribbed nutlet; nutlets fall with bracts attached, aiding their distribution by the wind.
Light brownish-gray to dark bluish-gray; trunk fluted, resembling rippling muscles.
Hornbeam wood is tough, closed-grained, heavy and strong. Although seldom harvested, it has been used for levers, tool handles, wooden cogs, mallets and wedges. The seeds are a valuable food source for gray squirrels and a variety of birds. It is also used by beavers for food and building material.
One common name, musclewood, comes from the resemblance of its trunk to flexed, well-defined muscles.