Hainault Forest Website

Tree identification

Hornbeam Carpinus betulus

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Twig zigzag with short buds as compared to Beech

Simple pinnate leaf, serrated edges. The veins give a corrugated appearance to the leaf.  Catkins Individual nuts in the inflorescence surrounded by a three lobed bract. Photo:    Vic George
 
Smooth bark with greyish vertical markings Hornbeam nuts eaten by mice/voles

 

HORNBEAM Carpinus betulus

 

The Hornbeam is a tree of southern and eastern England, and Hainault Forest is an important woodland for this species. Historically Hainault Forest is also important because of the ancient pollards which occur throughout, reflecting the uses the timber was put to. Unfortunately pollarding ceased prior to 1851 and the ancient pollards are now unwieldy, rotting, and often falling in high winds. Repollarding has been tried out with little success, the stress caused to the trees usually hastens their death in a few years. The Woodland Trust are now carrying out pollarding on young trees in the woodland to try and recreate the ancient woodland for future generations before this feature is lost. Mice, voles and birds feed on the nuts and it is a favourite with the Hawfinch. The wood is very hard and its main use was to produce charcoal, and also for firewood. It is unsuitable for building and carpentry. Although easy to differentiate, the Hornbeam and Beech often cause confusion due to their superficial appearances and the fact that they often grow together. The leaf of the Hornbeam is serrated unlike the Beech which has a smooth edge.

 

LIVING HISTORY - an old Hornbeam pollard in the ancient woodland.

Hornbeam pollards in summer along the Headland Path