The weather is still cool and we have another month to plant trees so this month, Carpinus caroliniana, also known as ironwood or hornbeam is our featured tree. Ironwood is a small to medium deciduous understory tree widely distributed in bottomland understories. Because the wood is very hard and the gray trunk is a distinctive bluish gray with a sinewy rippled texture, it is also called muscle tree. Growing approximately 30' by 25', the alternate simple toothed leaves are 2 1/2 inches long, turning yellow in the fall. Flowers are green catkins borne on a three lobed bract, the nutlets in drooping clusters. Squirrels, rabbits, and beaver eat the seeds, wood, and bark. The small nuts are edible, but seldom used by humans.
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