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eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
eastern hophornbeam
hophornbeam
ironwood
American hophornbeam

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Ostrya italica subsp. virginiana (Mill.) H.J.P.Winkl.
Zugilus virginica Raf.
Carpinus virginiana Mill.

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for eastern hop-
hornbeam is Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K. Koch. Recognized varieties and
forms are as follows: 1) var. virginiana - (typical) eastern hophornbeam, 2)
var. laisa Fern. - with twigs permanently and heavily pubescent,and 3) var.
virginiana forma glandulosa (Spach) Macbr. - with stalked glands on the
twigs.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTRANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Eastern hophorn-
beam is a small, slow-growing, shapely tree usually not more than 35 feet
(11 m) tall and 12 inches (30 cm) in d.b.h. The tree develops a broad top
(sometimes as much as 50 feet [15 m] across) of small, spreading branches.
The leaves are alternate with slender hairy stems. The twigs are tipped
with slender, cylindrical buds. The pistillate flowers are in slender catkins.
The hoplike fruit is 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) long and borne on short, slen-
der stems. The thin, gray bark forms narrow, platelike scales.

 

REGENERATION PROCESSES: Eastern hophornbeam can easily be
propagated from seed. The hoplike stobile begins to break up immediately
after ripening, and the lightweight seeds are dispersed by wind and birds
throughout the fall and early winter. Trees begin to produce fruit at age 25.
Cut, burned, or injured trees commonly sprout from the stump. The pro-
portion of stump sprouting increases with stump height.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Eastern hophornbeam grows on a wide
variety of sites but is most common on dry-mesic and mesic valley bottoms
and lower slopes. Best development occurs on loamy soils in ravines, on
lower slopes, and on well-drained floodplains of major rivers. The lowest
slope that it occupies is determined by its intolerance to flooding. Soil pH
ranges from 4.2 to 7.6 in the northern half of its range and 4.6 to 5.6 in the
southern half . Elevation ranges from 250 to 750 feet (75-230 m) in Quebec
to 5,000 feet (1,520 m) in the southern Appalachians, but the species is
most common at elevations ranging from 2,800 to 3,200 feet (850-980 m).

 

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Eastern hophornbeam typically grows in
climax forests in the northern parts of its range. It is classed as tolerant
and will reproduce well under full shade. It is ranked high as a species
climax potential. In the Southeast, eastern hophornbeam is associated
with a later seral stage that follows the pioneer pine communities. It first
appears in Peidmont pine stands after about 90 years and in the bottom-
land hardwoods after about 36 years.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: In the North, flowering occurs from mid-
May to mid-June, and in the South from late March to mid-April. The fruits
ripen by the end of August in the North and as late as October in the South.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Eastern hophornbeam is found from
Prince Edward's Island to Nova Scotia west through Ontario and Manitoba,
and south to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Its range includes all eastern
states to northern Florida and eastern Texas. It also extends to the high-
lands of southern Mexico, and south to Guatemala, El Salvador, and
Honduras.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:

 

Tree specimens can be found on trails marked in red.

 

       Bleak House
      
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
       South Ridge/North Ridge
       Gap Run

       Snowden
       Woodpecker Lane

       Sherman's Mill
       Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
       Fish Pond

 

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Eastern hophorn-
beam most commonly occurs as a subordinate species in maple (Acer spp.)
-beech (Fagus spp.) and maple-basswood (Tilia spp.) communities. It is
not an indicator of any particular habitat type.

 

Common tree associates include American elm (Ulmus americana), black-
gum (Nyssa sylvatica), sassafras (Sassafras albidium), flowering dogwood
(Cornus florida), hickories (Carya spp.), American holly (Ilex opaca), and
American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana). Shrub associates include
mountain maple (Acer spicatum), roundleaf dogwood (Cornus rugosa),
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), American elder (Sambucus canaden-
sis), American yew (Taxus canadensis), hobblebush (Viburnum alnifolium),
beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera),
and greenbriers (Smilax spp.).

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: Throughout its range, eastern hophornbeam
is browsed by white-tailed deer only incidentally. White-tailed deer usually
browse more desirable species when available.

 

Buds and catkins of eastern hophornbeam are important winter food for
ruffed grouse, and the nuts are a secondary food in the fall. The nuts are
also a preferred food for sharp-tailed grouse and wild turkey, and is eaten
to a lesser extent by northern bobwhite, red and gray squirrels, cottontails,
ring-necked pheasant, purple finch, rosebreasted grosbeak, and downy
woodpecker.

 

Eastern hophornbeam exhibits fast juvenile growth, indicating its potential
to provide vegetative cover in areas that have been disturbed by overstory
cutting. Great increases in eastern hophornbeam have occurred after north-
ern hardwood stands less than 40 years old were clearcut.

 

Eastern hophornbeam is considered a weed species throughout most of its
range. It is usually discriminated against in stands managed for timber. It
is not harvested for timber because of its relatively small size and scattered
distribution. Even so, the wood of eastern hophornbeam is strong, hard,
heavy, and takes a fine polish. The wood is used for posts, golf club handles,
tool handles, mallets, and woodenware.

 

Eastern hophornbean has been cultivated as an ornamental in the eastern
United States.

 

 

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