American Hophornbeam


A cousin to the birch tree, the American hophornbeam is an understory tree that offers additional nesting space and nutrition for animals as well as creating a vibrant fall display for any yard or garden.

This tree is eligible for a $50 Tree Rebate.

Common Name
American hophornbeam

Latin Name
Ostrya virginiana

Alternate, simple, pinnately veined, oval-shaped, 3 to 5 inches long, green above, paler and fuzzy on the underside

Male flowers are preformed catkins, in clusters of 3s (resemble birds toes); females appear in spring and are slender, light green catkins

1/4-inch nutlet that is enclosed in a dried, leafy, inflated sac; very distinctive, resembling hops; serveral sacs can hang from one stem

Slender, reddish brown, smooth, and may be slightly pubescent. Male catkins present on the end of the branch; buds are small, plump ovate, and covered with green and red-brown, finely grooved (vertically) scales.

Smooth and reddish brown when young and turning light brown and developing a loose, scaly appearance with age

The American hophornbeam develops a round crown of fine branches.

Grows up to around 40 feet in height

Native Range
Native range extends east of the Missouri, reaching into Canada and going almost as far south as Florida

Small deciduous tree

Seasonal Colors
Leaves turn a vibrant yellow in the fall

Prefers moist, fertile, well-drained rocky or sandy soils along ridges and edges of forested areas

Full sun to partial shade

Similar Species
Sweet birch, yellow birch, hornbeam, American hazel

Pests and Diseases
Trunk and butt rot are serious problems for the American hophornbeam, but there are few pests and other diseases that cause health issues

Rebate Eligibility

Of Note
Buds and catkins of eastern hophornbeam are important winter food for ruffed grouse.

The hophornbeam’s tough, resilient branches can resist wind, snow, and ice damage.

Photo Credits

MPRB Forestry
Natural Resources Conservation Service