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Hornbeams are
hardwood Hardwood is wood from Dicotyledon, dicot trees. These are usually found in broad-leaved temperate and tropical forests. In temperate and boreal ecosystem, boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergre ...
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, usually supporting branches and leaves. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondar ...
s in the
flowering plant Flowering plants are plants that bear flowers and fruits, and form the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek language, Greek words ('container, vessel') and ('seed'), and refers to ...
genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viruses. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus com ...
''Carpinus'' in the
birch A birch is a thin-leaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus ''Betula'' (), in the family Betulaceae, which also includes alders, hazels, and hornbeams. It is closely related to the beech-oak family Fagaceae. The genus ''Betula'' contains 30 to ...
family Betulaceae. The 30–40 species occur across much of the
temperate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (23.5° to 66.5° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout t ...
regions of the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is north of the Equator. For other planets in the Solar System, north is defined as being in the same celestial hemisphere relative to the invariable plane of the solar system as Earth's North ...
.


Origin of names

The common English name ''hornbeam'' derives from the hardness of the woods (likened to horn) and the Old English ''beam'' "tree" (cognate with Dutch ‘’Boom’’ and German ''Baum''). The American hornbeam is also occasionally known as blue-beech, ironwood, or musclewood, the first from the resemblance of the bark to that of the American beech ''Fagus grandifolia'', the other two from the hardness of the wood and the muscled appearance of the trunk and limbs. The botanical name for the genus, ''Carpinus'', is the original Latin name for the European species, although some etymologists derive it from the Celtic for a
yoke A yoke is a wooden Beam (structure), beam sometimes used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; some yokes are fitted to individual animals. There are several ...
.


Taxonomy

Formerly some taxonomists segregated them with the genera ''
Corylus The hazel (''Corylus'') is a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperateness, temperate Northern Hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae,Germplasmgobills Information Network''Corylus''Rushfor ...
'' (
hazel The hazel (''Corylus'') is a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperateness, temperate Northern Hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae,Germplasmgobills Information Network''Corylus''Rushfor ...
s) and ''
Ostrya ''Ostrya'' is a genus of eight to 10 small deciduous trees belonging to the birch family Betulaceae. Common names include hop-hornbeam and hophornbeam. It may also be called ironwood, a name shared with a number of other plants. The genus is nat ...
'' ( hop-hornbeams) in a separate family, Corylaceae. However, modern botanists place ''Carpinus'' in the
birch A birch is a thin-leaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus ''Betula'' (), in the family Betulaceae, which also includes alders, hazels, and hornbeams. It is closely related to the beech-oak family Fagaceae. The genus ''Betula'' contains 30 to ...
subfamily Coryloideae. Species of ''Carpinus'' are often grouped into two subgenera ''Carpinus'' subgenus ''Carpinus'' and ''Carpinus'' subgenus '' Distegicarpus''. However, phylogentic analysis has shown that ''
Ostrya ''Ostrya'' is a genus of eight to 10 small deciduous trees belonging to the birch family Betulaceae. Common names include hop-hornbeam and hophornbeam. It may also be called ironwood, a name shared with a number of other plants. The genus is nat ...
'' likely evolved from a ''Carpinus'' ancestor somewhere in ''C.'' subg. '' Distegicarpus'' making ''Carpinus''
paraphyletic In taxonomy, a group is paraphyletic if it consists of the group's last common ancestor and most of its descendants, excluding a few monophyletic subgroups. The group is said to be paraphyletic ''with respect to'' the excluded subgroups. In ...
. The fossil record of the genus extends back to the
Early Eocene In the geologic timescale the Ypresian is the oldest age (geology), age or lowest stage (stratigraphy), stratigraphic stage of the Eocene. It spans the time between , is preceded by the Thanetian Age (part of the Paleocene) and is followed by th ...
,
Ypresian In the geologic timescale the Ypresian is the oldest age (geology), age or lowest stage (stratigraphy), stratigraphic stage of the Eocene. It spans the time between , is preceded by the Thanetian Age (part of the Paleocene) and is followed by th ...
of northwestern North America, with the species '' Carpinus perryae'' described from fossil fruits found in the Klondike Mountain Formation of Republic, Washington.


Description

Hornbeams are small to medium-sized trees, ''Carpinus betulus'' reaching a height of 32 m. The leaves are
deciduous In the fields of horticulture and Botany, the term ''deciduous'' () means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves, usually in the autumn; to the shedding of petals, af ...
, alternate, and simple with a serrated margin, and typically vary from 3 to 10 cm in length. The flowers are wind-pollinated pendulous
catkin A catkin or ament is a slim, cylindrical flower cluster (a spike (botany), spike), with inconspicuous or no petals, usually wind-pollination, pollinated (anemophily, anemophilous) but sometimes insect-pollinated (as in ''Salix''). They contain man ...
s, produced in spring. The male and female flowers are on separate catkins, but on the same tree (
monoecious Monoecy (; adj. monoecious ) is a sexual system in seed plants where separate male and female cones or flowers are present on the same plant. It is a monomorphic sexual system alongside gynomonoecy, andromonoecy and trimonoecy. Monoecy is conne ...
). The fruit is a small nut about 3–6 mm long, held in a leafy
bract In botany, a bract is a modified or specialized leaf, especially one associated with a reproductive structure such as a flower, inflorescence axis or cone scale. Bracts are usually different from foliage leaves. They may be smaller, larger, or of ...
; the bract may be either trilobed or simple oval, and is slightly asymmetrical. The asymmetry of the seedwing makes it spin as it falls, improving wind dispersal. The shape of the wing is important in the identification of different hornbeam species. Typically, 10–30 seeds are on each seed catkin.


Distribution

The 30–40 species occur across much of the
temperate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (23.5° to 66.5° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout t ...
regions of the northern hemisphere, with the greatest number of species in east Asia, particularly
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
. Only two species occur in Europe, only one in eastern North America, and one in
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in southern North America and most of Central America. It extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Withi ...
. '' Carpinus betulus'' can be found in Europe, Turkey and Ukraine.


Associated insects

Hornbeams are used as food plants by the
larva A larva (; plural larvae ) is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect developmental biology, development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of t ...
e of some
Lepidoptera Lepidoptera ( ) is an order (biology), order of insects that includes butterfly, butterflies and moths (both are called lepidopterans). About 180,000 species of the Lepidoptera are described, in 126 Family (biology), families and 46 Taxonomic r ...
species, including autumnal moth, common emerald, feathered thorn, walnut sphinx, Svensson's copper underwing, and winter moth (recorded on European hornbeam) as well as the '' Coleophora'' case-bearers ''C. currucipennella'' and ''C. ostryae''.


Applications

Hornbeams yield a very hard
timber Lumber is wood that has been processed into dimensional lumber, including Beam (structure), beams and plank (wood), planks or boards, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for construction framing, as well as fini ...
, giving rise to the name "ironwood".Archived a
Ghostarchive
and th
Wayback Machine
Dried
heartwood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the Plant stem, stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic materiala natural composite material, composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and emb ...
billets are nearly white and are suitable for decorative use. For general carpentry, hornbeam is rarely used, partly due to the difficulty of working it. The wood is used to construct carving boards, tool handles, handplane soles, coach wheels,
piano The piano is a stringed keyboard instrument in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material (modern hammers are covered with dense wool felt; some early pianos used leather). It is played using a musica ...
actions, shoe lasts, and other products where a very tough, hard wood is required. The wood can also be used as gear pegs in simple machines, including traditional
windmill A windmill is a structure that converts wind power into rotational energy using vanes called windmill sail, sails or blades, specifically to mill (grinding), mill grain (gristmills), but the term is also extended to windpumps, wind turbines, and ...
s. It is sometimes
coppice Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which exploits the capacity of many species of trees to put out new shoots from their tree stump, stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, which is called a copse, young tree stems ...
d to provide hardwood poles. It is also used in parquet flooring and for making chess pieces.


Species

Accepted species: *'' Carpinus betulus'' – European hornbeam - Europe to Western Asia; naturalized in North America. *'' Carpinus caroliniana'' – American hornbeam - Eastern North America *'' Carpinus chuniana'' – Guangdong, Guizhou, Hubei *'' Carpinus cordata'' – Sawa hornbeam - Primorye, China, Korea, Japan *'' Carpinus dayongiana'' – Hunan *'' Carpinus eximia'' – Korea *'' Carpinus faginea'' – Nepal, Himalayas of northern India *'' Carpinus fangiana'' – Sichuan, Guangxi *'' Carpinus hebestroma'' – Taiwan *'' Carpinus henryana'' – southern China *'' Carpinus japonica'' Blume – Japanese hornbeam - Japan *'' Carpinus kawakamii'' – Taiwan, southeastern China *'' Carpinus kweichowensis'' – Guizhou, Yunnan *'' Carpinus langaoensis'' – Shaanxi, China *'' Carpinus laxiflora'' – Aka-shide hornbeam - Japan, Korea *'' Carpinus lipoensis'' – Guizhou *'' Carpinus londoniana'' – southern China, northern Indochina *'' Carpinus luochengensis'' – Guangxi *'' Carpinus mengshanensis'' – Shandong *'' Carpinus microphylla'' – Guangxi *'' Carpinus mollicoma'' – Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan *'' Carpinus monbeigiana'' – Tibet, Yunnan *'' Carpinus omeiensis'' – Sichuan, Guizhou *'' Carpinus orientalis'' – Oriental hornbeam - Hungary, Balkans, Italy, Crimea, Turkey, Iran, Caucasus *'' Carpinus paohsingensis'' – China *†'' Carpinus perryae'' -
Ypresian In the geologic timescale the Ypresian is the oldest age (geology), age or lowest stage (stratigraphy), stratigraphic stage of the Eocene. It spans the time between , is preceded by the Thanetian Age (part of the Paleocene) and is followed by th ...
, Klondike Mountain Formation *'' Carpinus polyneura'' – southern China *'' Carpinus pubescens'' – China, Vietnam *'' Carpinus purpurinervis'' – Guizhou, Guangxi *'' Carpinus putoensis'' – Putuo hornbeam - Zhejiang *'' Carpinus rankanensis'' – Taiwan *'' Carpinus rupestris'' – Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou *'' Carpinus shensiensis'' – Gansu, Shaanxi *'' Carpinus shimenensis'' – Hunan *†'' Carpinus tengshongensis'' –
Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) is the epoch (geology), epoch in the geologic time scale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58
Yunnan Province Yunnan , () is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', which was the major territoria ...
*'' Carpinus tropicalis'' – Mexico, Central America *'' Carpinus tsaiana'' – Yunnan, Guizhou *'' Carpinus tschonoskii'' – Chonowski's hornbeam - China, Korea, Japan *'' Carpinus turczaninovii'' – Korean hornbeam, - China, Korea, Japan *'' Carpinus viminea'' – China, Korea, Himalayas, northern Indochina


References


External links

* {{Authority control Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus