Bernheim’s Arboretum recently acquired 11 new European hornbeams. The horticulture crew planted the new trees along the path leading to Earth Measure creating a tree-lined corridor.
‘Fastigiata’ European hornbeam, the most common cultivar sold, grows 30 to 40 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide. Instead of a large central trunk, the hornbeam fans out into a very densely foliated, columnar or oval-shaped tree, making it ideal for use as a hedge, screen, or windbreak.
The leaves are dark green through the summer, fading to yellow in the fall. The smooth, grey, rippling bark shields the extremely hard, strong wood. The wood is so solid it was reportedly used by the ancient Romans to make chariots. American pioneers also used it to make yokes for their oxen.
The hornbeam grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live to a ripe old age of 120 years or more; think of this as a heritage tree for future generations!