Plant of the Month: Carpinus caroliniana, Ironwood
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.