Common name: American hornbeam, blue beech, muscle wood
Carpinus caroliniana is a slow-growing, deciduous, understory tree waiting to be adopted in our Garden. It has been waiting for a long time but seems quite happy with the company of the ostrich ferns growing all around it. It is native to eastern North America. It is a low maintenance tree and does well in part shade to full shade with average to moist soil. A tree to appreciate, especially by song birds, grouse, quail, wild turkey and foxes. Its seed and buds are their food source.
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. You can also call this tree 'blue beech' - its bark is bluish when young; or you can call this tree 'muscle wood' - its irregularly fluted older branches look like a flexed bicep muscle.
Text and photos by Hughie Jones
Fall (1983) and winter (date unknown) photos by Roy Forster