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Carpinus betulus

European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is columnar when young and grows into its stately namesake shape as it ages, up to 80 feet tall where it is native in Europe and Central Asia. Carpinus betulus are densely branched hedges with a distinctive fluted gray bark and sharply-toothed dark green foliage that turns yellow-orange in autumn. Planted in groups, it works perfectly as a screen or windbreak and can work equally well as a formal hedge with hard pruning. It’s best pruned during the late summer to mid-winter period, when significant bleeding can be avoided. In Europe, it is a popular tree for pleaching, a kind of large-scale topiary gardening where trees are grown together in a natural form of interwoven grafting. This became a common gardening practice in the medieval era, when the tree was celebrated for its shade-producing qualities. In fact the European hornbeam hedge has been in cultivation for such a long time there is no noted date of introduction.


European hornbeam hedge


Carpinus betulus was introduced to North America sometime during the colonial era. The common ‘hornbeam’ name is due to the tree’s extremely hard wood, which will take on a horn-like smooth polish, and was once widely used in Europe to make oxen yokes. The hedge works perfect in urban areas. Carpinus betulus is perfect for screening to get instant privacy.

European Hornbeam looks very similar to European Beech when grown as a hedge, and they can be considered interchangeable. You can learn more about the differences between Hornbeam and Beech here. Buy Carpinus Betulus today!

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 - 8
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Sun/Shade: Full Sun to Full Shade
Deer Resistance: YES
Watering Requirements: Weekly, or possibly more often in containers or extreme heat
Growth Rate: Moderate
Mature Size: Up to 12’ height and 4’ width
Drought Tolerance: Yes
Sunset Heat Zones: 2 - 9 and 14 - 17
Pest/Disease Issues:
No serious insect or disease problems. Resistant to verticillium. Susceptible to scales and root rot.

Landscape Gallery

  • Carpinus Hornbeam Hedge planted in driveway for privacy and noise barrier

    European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) forms an effective barrier between a busy street and a private garden.

  • Carpinus Hornbeam Hedge planted for a formal suburban look to go with patio outdoor

    This outdoor room looks stunning with a leafy backdrop like a hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) hedge as is featured here.

  • Carpinus Boxwood Hedge planted in country cottage knot garden flower path

    Various parts of the garden can be clearly defined with a tall leafy hedge of beech (Fagus) or hornbeam (Carpinus) like shown here.

  • Betulus Hornbeam hedge planted at country garden

    Mature hedges can form very effective outdoor walls like those nearly 8 feet tall pictured here!

Hornbeam Hedge


Carpinus Betulus Hedge


European Beech Hedge