Carpinus betulus


  • Botanical name: Carpinus betulus
  • Common name: Hornbeam
  • Family: Corylaceae
  • Plant Type: Tree, Deciduous
Foliage colour:


Similar in appearance to beech, hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) makes a superb specimen tree or hedging plant. Grown as a tree, it has a pyramidal shape that later becomes more rounded. As a formal hornbeam hedge it requires clipping once a year in mid- to late summer to keep it looking tidy. You can also grow pleached hornbeam trees, which are excellent for creating screening above head height, while retaining space at ground level. However they do require a lot of pruning to keep them in shape, which isn’t suitable for everyone’s needs.


Hornbeam is particularly useful for hedging as it looks formal while growing up to 50cm per year, so it doesn’t take long to develop into a hedge. Although not evergreen, Carpinus betulus retains its coppery dead leaves throughout the winter so it remains an effective screen. Green catkins appear in spring and winged nuts develop in autumn.


For best results grow Carpinus betulus in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. If growing carpinus betulus hedging, plant young whips 30cm apart and keep well watered. Standard hornbeam trees and pleasched hornbeam trees should be planted at the same depth they were in the field or pot. For best results plant in autumn and keep well watered for the first two years after planting.

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Advice on buying Carpunus betulus

  • Make sure you know which type of hornbeam you want to buy. Buy whips to plant a hedge and a two-year ol standard tree if you want a tree. Pleached trees require a lot of care and pruning so make sure you have the time and patience to grow these
  • Make sure your tree was grown in the UK or has a suitable ‘plant passport’ to prevent the spread of disease
  • Always check plants for sigs of damage or disease before planting

Where to buy hornbeam

How to grow Carpinus betulus

  • Plant size

    25m height

    20m spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, west facing

  • Position in border


  • Sun exposure: Dappled shade, full sun
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Chalky / alkaline / clay / heavy / moist / well drained / light / sandy

Plant calendar

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do not Sow in March

Do not Sow in April

Do not Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do Sow in October

Do Sow in November

Do not Sow in December


Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do not Plant in December


Do not Prune in January

Do not Prune in February

Do not Prune in March

Do not Prune in April

Do not Prune in May

Do Prune in June

Do not Prune in July

Do not Prune in August

Do Prune in September

Do not Prune in October

Do not Prune in November

Do not Prune in December

Carpinus betulus and wildlife

Carpinus betulus is known for attracting birds. It provides shelter and habitat and makes a good wildlife hedge.

Does not attract Bees

Does not attract Beneficial insects

Attractive to Birds

Does not attract Butterflies​/​Moths

Does not attract Other pollinators

Is Carpinus betulus poisonous?

Carpinus betulus has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People