Hop Hornbeam

Hop HornbeamHop Hornbeam — Hophornbeam, Ostrya is a genus of eight to ten small deciduous trees belonging to the birch family Betulaceae. Its common name is Hophornbeam in American English and Hop-hornbeam in British English. It may also be called ironwood, a name shared with a number of other plants.

The genus is native in southern Europe, southwest and eastern Asia, and North and Central America. They have a conical or irregular crown and a scaly, rough bark. They have alternate and double-toothed birch-like leaves 3-10 cm long. The flowers are produced in spring, with male catkins 5-10 cm long and female catkins 2-5 cm long. The fruit form in pendulous clusters 3-8 cm long with 6-20 seeds; each seed is a small nut 2-4 mm long, fully enclosed in a bladder-like involucre.

The wood is very hard and heavy; the name Ostrya is derived from the Greek word ‘ostrua’, “bone-like”, referring to the very hard wood. Regarded as a weed tree by some foresters, this hard and stable wood was historically used to fashion plane soles.

Ostyra species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata), Walnut Sphinx (Amorpha juglandis) and Coleophora ostryae.

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