Columnar Hornbeam

Botanical Name: Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’

Alternate Names: Common Hornbeam, European Hornbeam, Columnar European Hornbeam, Pyramidal European Hornbeam

The Columnar Hornbeam, also known as the common or European Hornbeam, is a medium-sized, deciduous tree. ‘Fastigiata’ means a narrow form with upright branches, or narrowing towards the top. Both of these descriptions apply to Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata.’ Its growth as a juvenile tree is narrow and columnar, and as it matures it develops into the shape of a teardrop with a rounded, pyramidal form. 

The Columnar Hornbeam grows to a height of 30-40 feet and a width of 20-30 feet. This narrow form lends itself to narrow planting sites, such as screening between houses, lining driveways, or walkways. It tolerates substantial pruning and is effective as a hedge. This selection also makes a great shade tree as well as a useful street tree with its tolerance for pollution.

The leaves of Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’ are a handsome, deep green with sharply-toothed margins. They maintain their color and form throughout the growing season, showing good resistance to foliar diseases. In the fall the foliage gives a modest display, turning yellow, orange, and brown colors. This cultivar is not prized for its seasonal color but rather for its narrow, attractive form.

The flowers are similar to that of birch trees (Betulas). There are both male and female catkins that emerge before the leaves appear in the spring. The male flowers are around 1.5 inches long and the female flowers are up to 3.5 inches long. The following fruits are small nutlets that hang from the branches in clusters up to 5 inches long in the summer. The Columnar Hornbeam’s bark is an attractive, smooth gray.

Category:

Height: 30-40 ft.

Width: 20-30 ft.

Shape: Pyramidal, Columnar

Flower Color: Yellow (male), green (female)

Flowering Time: March

Fall Color: Yellow, orange

Features:  Narrow width, fine-textured tree

Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade

Watering: Moderate & Regular

Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained soil. 

Growth Rate: Fast

USDA Zones: 4-8

Uses: Hedge, shade tree, street tree, lining parkways/walkways, screen

Similar trees: Carpinus betula 'Frans Fontaine'