HORNBEAM Carpinus betulus
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.