Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K. Koch
Eastern hop-hornbeam, Hophornbeam, Ironwood
Betulaceae (Birch Family)
Synonym(s): Ostrya virginiana var. lasia, Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana
USDA Symbol: OSVI
A tree with a trunk that looks like sinewy muscles and a rounded crown of slender, spreading branches. Eastern hop-hornbeam or ironweed is a graceful, understory tree, typically growing 30-50 ft. Conical shape, especially when young, the deciduous tree becomes more rounded at maturity. Loose bark, in narrow, rectilinear strips, covers the often twisting trunk. Catkins appear just before or with the appearance of new leaves. Oval-pointed, mature leaves vary in size and turn a mild yellow in fall. Fruits are borne in a hanging, hoplike structure.
The common name refers to the resemblance of the fruit clusters to hops, an ingredient of beer. The nutlets and buds are eaten by wildlife, such as bobwhites, pheasants, grouse, deer, and rabbits. Also called Ironwood, for its extremely hard tough wood, which is used for tool handles, small wooden articles, and fenceposts. Planted as an ornamental but slow-growing.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Green, Brown
Size Class: 36-72 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV , WY
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to FL Panhandle, w. to Man., e. ND, e. KS & e. TX; also Crook Co., WY
Native Habitat: Well-drained, deciduous woods
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Rich, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Hophornbeam is appropriate for shady locations but also does well in sun, developing a broader crown there. It is not sensitive to drought but will not tolerate flooding. Resistant to insects (except the gypsy moth), disease, wind, ice, and most stresses of urban living. Notoriously sensitive to salt. Slow-growing.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Some food value to songbirds and small mammals.
Use Other: This is one of the hardest and toughest of the native woods. It was once used for runners on sleighs. (Hosie)
Only occasionally does this tree grow as much as 30 feet high, or produce a trunk a foot thick, nor does it occur abundantly enough to make it commercially profitable. (Peattie)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Sow immediately after collection or pre-treat and sow in early spring.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds when involucres begin to dry – late summer through October. Wear gloves as the seed clusters can cause itchy fingers. Spread in shallow layers to complete drying. Beat fruit in a sack and separate from the debris by winnowing. Cold stratification is the best means of storing over winter.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Suppliers DirectoryAccording to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-MLE-36 Collected 2006-09-28 in Cherokee County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Ostrya virginiana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ostrya virginiana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ostrya virginiana
MetadataRecord Modified: 2013-10-25
Research By: JAM