Carpinus caroliniana subsp. virginiana

(Marshall) Furlow

Syst. Bot. 12: 429. 1987.

Common names: American hornbeam blue beech musclewood ironwood charme de Caroline bois de fer
Basionym: Carpinus betulus var. virginiana Marshall Arbust. Amer., 25. 1785 Carpinus virginiana 1893
Synonyms: Carpinus caroliniana var. virginiana (Marshall) Fernald
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 3.

Trees, to 12 m; trunks short, crooked, shallowly to deeply and often irregularly fluted, crowns broadly spreading. Bark bluish gray, smooth to somewhat roughened. Leaf blade ovate or elliptic to narrowly elliptic, (6–)8–12 × 3.5–6 cm, base narrowly rounded to cordate, margins coarsely and unevenly doubly serrate, teeth sharp and slender, secondary teeth almost as large as primary teeth, apex usually abruptly nearly caudate, but sometimes long, gradually tapered; surfaces abaxially usually moderately pubescent, especially on major veins, covered with numerous tiny, dark brown glands. Inflorescences: staminate inflorescences 2–6 cm; pistillate inflorescences 1–3 cm. Infructescences 4.5–12 cm; bracts 2.5–3.5 × 1.5–2.8 cm, lobes narrowly triangular, sharp-tipped. 2n = 16.

Phenology: Flowering late spring.
Habitat: In understory stratum in rich deciduous forest along stream banks, on flood plains, and on moist hillsides
Elevation: 0–300 m


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Ont., Que., Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.


Carpinus caroliniana subsp. virginiana is the familiar hornbeam of the Appalachians and interior forested northeastern North America. The leaves are distinctive in that they bear scattered dark glands on the abaxial surface. This subspecies hybridizes and intergrades with subsp. caroliniana where their ranges overlap in a broad band running from the Carolinas south to northern Georgia and westward to Missouri, Arkansas, and southeastern Oklahoma (J. J. Furlow 1987).

Selected References


Lower Taxa

John J. Furlow +
(Marshall) Furlow +
Carpinus betulus var. virginiana +  and Carpinus virginiana +
American hornbeam +, blue beech +, musclewood +, ironwood +, charme de Caroline +  and bois de fer +
Ont. +, Que. +, Ala. +, Ark. +, Conn. +, Del. +, D.C. +, Ga. +, Ill. +, Ind. +, Iowa +, Ky. +, Maine +, Md. +, Mass. +, Mich. +, Minn. +, Miss. +, Mo. +, N.H. +, N.J. +, N.Y. +, N.C. +, Ohio +, Okla. +, Pa. +, R.I. +, S.C. +, Tenn. +, Vt. +, Va. +, W.Va. +  and Wis. +
0–300 m +
In understory stratum in rich deciduous forest along stream banks, on flood plains, and on moist hillsides +
Flowering late spring. +
Endemic +  and Illustrated +
Carpinus caroliniana var. virginiana +
Carpinus caroliniana subsp. virginiana +
Carpinus caroliniana +
subspecies +