Ostrya virginiana, (Eastern) Hop-hornbeam, Ironwood

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic 

Despite being one of the hardest of native* woods, Hop-hornbeam is undesirable in commercial forests. It provides interest as an ornamental though, with fluted trunk, exfoliating bark, and drooping clusters of sac-like pods that resemble the fruit of hops, hence its common name.

Print Version: Ostrya virginiana, (Eastern) Hop-hornbeam, Ironwood

Ostrya virginiana (Eastern Hop Hornbeam) Tree: Height: 25-50 feet; Spread: 20-35 feet; Bloom Color: Tan/brown (male), light green (female). Characteristics Small, graceful, deciduous, understory tree with rounded top and long slender branches; Oval, sharply-serrated, dark yellow-green leaves; Flowers–male (present through winter) and female (April to June)–appear as catkins on the same tree; Fruit resembling hops consists of clusters of leafy, oval, papery sacs, each containing a nutlet; Yellow or copper fall leaves may persist into winter; Gray-brown, twisting trunk with “muscle-like” features and narrow rectangular strips of exfoliating bark. Attributes: Tolerates clay, rocky, and dry soils and sun; intolerant of flooding and especially of salt; No serious pests or diseases; deer seldom severely damage; Adaptable but slow-growing; Attracts birds like downy woodpecker, purple finch. Growing and Maintenance Tips: Soil Requirements: Moist, well-drained; Light Requirements: Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Dry, Moist; Transplant as a balled or burlaped plant; Use as an ornamental lawn or street tree, or in a woodland garden. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-9 Excellent Replacement for Ailanthus altissima - Tree of Heaven It is native to DC and most counties in PA. In DE, it is rare in the Piedmont and absent in the Coastal Plain. In VA, it is common in the mountains, frequent in the Piedmont, and infrequent in the Coastal Plain. Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets.