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American hornbeam, also called blue beech, musclewood, water beech, and ironwood, is a small to medium tree. In its youth, and even sometimes at maturity, this species tends be multi-trunked and densely branched. It also tends to develop major branches near ground level which can be a desirable or undesirable characteristic depending on how this species is intended to be used in the landscape. Unpruned trees have a more “natural” appearance (less symmetrical, more dense, less kempt). In contrast, pruned trees have a more symmetrical, less dense, and kempt appearance. In native haunts, American hornbeam is found near streams or other wet areas, thus it can tolerate moist soils; it is moderately drought tolerant.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
February 21, 2012