USDA Organic American Hornbeam Tree
USDA Organic American Hornbeam Leaf
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USDA Organic American Hornbeam Tree
USDA Organic American Hornbeam Leaf
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Growth Facts

USDA Organic American Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana

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They don't call it "Musclewood" for nothing! American Hornbeam, a.k.a. "Musclewood," has smooth-barked limbs as taut and rippled as an elite athlete's, and you'll find yourself wanting to touch them! This small to medium sized ornamental tree lends a sense of quiet strength to the landscape and will bring to your garden the much-needed "structure" that landscape designers talk so much about. With its powerful form, natural elegance, compact size, and ravishing fall color, it might even be compared to a Japanese Maple. Unlike Japanese Maple, though, this Hornbeam is a native tree of much greater value to local wildlife. The beautiful tiger swallowtail butterfly is one such creature that benefits from its presence.

Tread lightly, shrink your footprint, and let yourself grow with USDA Certified Organic Trees. Organic farming has sprung up drastically in importance and influence,  spreading worldwide the philosophy of deeply rooting nature in harmony and enriching the soil we stand upon. Benefitting the gardener, enhancing biodiversity, preserving nature's wildlife, and a true direction to protecting our environment. Choosing organic trees on your property, whether they are fruit, nut, ornamental, or shade trees, begins with their soil and cultivates change taking root in your backyard. Take one BIG TREE step for your garden, and one giant leap towards a greener world.


Growth Facts

Recommended by Our Growers

The Story

Perhaps you know American Hornbeam by one of its other names:  Blue Beech, Water Beech, Ironwood, or Musclewood.  Quite likely you have seen it on a hike through the woods—once encountered, it is seldom forgotten.  Its trunk, like rippling muscles under a thin skin of bark, begs to be touched, and its fiery fall color rivals that of some maples.  American Hornbeam is found in wild spaces all over the Eastern U.S and even into Canada and Mexico, but nowhere is it common in landscapes.  That needs to change!

The Details

The good ol' American Hornbeam, this native hardwood is not subject to cracking or splitting and was used by American pioneers for bowls and dishes. There's your history lesson for the day! Green foliage transforms into shades of yellow, orange, and red in fall - a bright contrast to the smooth gray bark. Grows best in partial shade but will also grow in full sun.

What does it mean to be USDA Organically grown?

  • USDA Organic crops are grown exclusively on land that has gone without having non-USDA Organic approved substances applied for three years.
  • No pesticides for us, please! Organically grown crops are highly regulated on what can and cannot be used for pest control—worried about harsh chemicals that have been sprayed on your plant? There is only a small number of approved synthetic chemicals that are allowed to be used. Otherwise, farmers use strict biological, mechanical, and physical management practices.
  • Not just any type of seeds are used to grow and harvest organic plants: farmers can only use organic seeds or organically raised seedlings in their organic fields.
  • Only the best handling is allowed! Organic and non-organic crops are not allowed to be commingled or near each other. Cross-contamination can occur, botching the organic plant's purity due to non-organic substances that could have been sprayed on non-organic harvests; this would cause the organic plant to be considered compromised.
  • Fields are carefully cultivated through crop rotation and proper tillage practices to ensure that the soil and the soil's nutrients are kept at a happy balance. Animal manure, not sludge, is allowed to help infuse the soil with nitrogen to support the growth of the organic crops.

How to Grow

This Country Mouse is sensitive to some of the grittier elements of city life—salt, pollution, baking sun—but with a little thought to its siting and aftercare, it is a remarkably trouble-free tree.  Surely it is adaptable if it has established itself from Canada to Mexico!  If your lot affords no shade, American Hornbeam is still an option if you can supply plenty of water; in fact, even occasional flooding is OK for this species.  Fall color and the bronzy new foliage in spring will be brighter in sun.

Size Guide

Size Guide Scale


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USDA Organic American Hornbeam Tree
USDA Organic American Hornbeam Leaf