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American Hop Hornbeam

Ostrya virginiana

American Hop Hornbeam

General Information

American Hop Hornbeam is a very slow-growing (less than 1 foot per year) small to medium-sized deciduous tree. It is an understory tree with a generally rounded crown

American Hop Hornbeam is typically found in dry, rocky forests and sloped areas scattered among uplands. American Hop Hornbeam succeeds in most soils but thrives in loam. It prefers a partial shade or shade.

American Hop Hornbeam is monoecious, having separate male and female flowers on the same tree. The catkins are found in groups of three. Male catkins appear as red-brown dropping catkins formed the previous summer (2nd year wood) and are present throughout winter; the female catkins appear in April on the previous years’ growth.

American Hop Hornbeam derives its name from its hard wood and hop-like fruits. Its wood is strong, hard, and durable; it is often used to make fence posts, fuel, and tool handles. Native Americans used the inner wood to treat toothache, sore muscles, and coughs.

Plant Information

Plant Type:

Deciduous tree

Sun Preference:

Full Sun * Part Sun

Soil Moisture Preference:

Medium-Wet * Medium * Medium-Dry

Plant Height:

25 to 40 feet

Plant Width:

20 to 30 feet

Plant Spacing:

20 to 30 feet

Flower Color:

Red-brown (male); Light Green (female)

Flower timing:


Culture Information:

American Hop Hornbeam Is low maintenance and an excellent choice for an urban setting/specimen tree. They’re effective in lawns, woodlands, bird gardens, cottage gardens, butterfly gardens, and native gardens.

When first planted, American Hop Hornbeam should be watered weekly for first few months, unless at least an inch of rain has been received in the last week to help it get established. After it becomes established, American Hop Hornbeam typically needs watering only during severe drought.

American Hop Hornbeam is a low-maintenance tree, with maintenance generally limited to removing dead branches. It does not tolerate salt.


Clay soil
Insect Pests

Pests & Disease:

American Hop Hornbeam pest problem is limited to gypsy moths where they are abundant.

American Hop Hornbeam has no serious disease problems.

American Hop Hornbeam is resistant to fire but is sensitive to soil compaction.

Wildlife Use:

Pollinators: American Hop Hornbeam is a possible host plant for Red-spotted Purple and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.

Birds: Songbirds, wild turkeys, and quail consume American Hop Hornbeam’s nutlets.

Mammals: Nutlets are eaten by small mammals. American Hop Hornbeam is moderately resistant to deer damage.

Other: N/A.

Native to:

East Tennessee including Knox and surrounding counties

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