Betulaceae (birch family) Carpinus

Carpinus betulus European hornbeam

Europe to Iran
Carpinus betulus Knight Plaza formal planting. John Rawlings, 26 Sep 2005

Carpinus, a name that presumably means small-fruited, receives honorable mention by classical Latin authors, for example by Vitruvius, who extols the wood’s durability and strength, features that favor its use for hammer and chisel handles today. Until recently it was also used widely to make gear wheels and other machine parts benefiting from impact resistance. The smooth bark is light gray. The finely-toothed leaves resemble birch and alder leaves but the conspicuous catkins, though similar in plan, are distinguished by large papery three-lobed bracts whose dominant central lobes may be almost as long as the leaves.

There are 18 of variety ‘Fastigiata’ in the formal planting of Knight Plaza (between Lathrop Library and the Knight building) and many more at the Cantor Center.

Carpinus betulus leaf and fruit. From Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope, George B. Sudworth, USDA, 1907

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. GSB updated to Lathrop Library (Dec 2018, SP). Native range corrected (Nov 2023, SP).