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Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K. Koch
Eastern hop-hornbeam, Hophornbeam, Ironwood
Synonym(s): Ostrya virginiana var. lasia, Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana
USDA Symbol: OSVI
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Green, Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr
, WY Canada: MB
, QC Native Distribution:
N.S. to FL
Panhandle, w. to Man., e. ND,
& e. TX; also Crook Co., WY Native Habitat:
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.
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:
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:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
American Native Nursery
- Quakertown, PA
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-MLE-36
Collected 2010-09-24 in Cherokee County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Webref 3 - Flora of North America
(2008) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Record Last Modified: 2013-10-25
Research By: JAM