Carpinus betulus


Common Hornbeam is an abundant tree in southern and eastern England, but is not as familiar as other woodland species, perhaps due to its general confinement to ancient woods. Its large catkins appear in late spring and large, winged seeds can be spotted in autumn as they are dispersed by the wind. The wood of Common Hornbeam is notoriously hard and difficult to work with, hence its other common name of 'Hardbeam'.

How to identify

Common Hornbeam is most easily recognised by the combination of its smooth grey, 'twisting' trunks, toothed-edged leaves and three-lobed seeds. It could be mistaken for Beech, but has more toothed, veiny leaves.

Where to find it

Native in southern and eastern England, frequently planted elsewhere.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Our native tree species, such as Common Hornbeam, provide important links in the food chain for many animals, as well as areas for shelter and nesting. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Carpinus betulus
Trees and shrubs
Height: up to 30m
Conservation status