Carpinus caroliniana ‘JN Strain’ – JN Strain Musclewood

Botanical Name: Carpinus caroliniana ‘JN Strain’

Alternate Name: JN Strain American Hornbeam

The JN Strain Musclewood is a tree that was cultivated from the North American Musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) for improved and radiant fall color, improved vigor, as well as tolerance for heavier clay and alkaline soils. It was developed by Johnson’s Nursery in Wisconsin.

The JN Strain Musclewood is an elegant, small, deciduous tree that grows to a height and width of 25-30 feet. This tree has a broadly oval growing habit with dense branching characteristic of most hornbeams. It makes a perfect specimen tree for smaller landscapes. It also works well as a street tree under power lines. Its dense branching provides deep shade.

The leaves of JN Strain Musclewood are dark green, small, and toothed. In the fall, the foliage gives a blazing display of mostly orange and red with some yellow highlighting tones. The bark of this tree is an outstanding smooth, pale gray, which makes a statement in the winter months when the leaves are gone.

This hornbeam cultivar produces both male and female catkins. The male flowers are drooping catkins which are orange-brown in color, and the female flowers are green catkins. The fruits are small nutlets that turn bronze and brown as they mature. The catkins and fruits are eaten by wildlife such as songbirds and squirrels.


Height: 25-30 ft.
Width: 25-30 ft.
Shape: Broadly Oval
Flower Color: Brown (male), Green (female)
Flowering Time: April-May
Fall Color: Orange-Red, Yellow
Features: Superior fall color
Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
Watering: Moderate & Regular
Soil: Prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil, with a pH between 5.0-7.4 (tolerant of mildly alkaline soils)
Growth Rate: Slow
USDA Zones: 4-8
Uses: Hedge, shade tree, street tree, screen, understory tree, wildlife garden
Similar Trees: Columnar Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’), Frans Fontaine Hornbeam (Carpinus betula ‘Frans Fontaine’), American Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

Additional information


Broad, Pyramidal

Flower Color

Brown, Green

Flowering Time

April, May

Fall Color

Orange, Red, Yellow

Growth Rate



Hedge, Screening, Shade Tree, Street Tree, Understory, Wildlife Gardens

USDA Zones

4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Mature Height


Mature Width



Full Sun, Partial Shade

Call Now Button