Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture


Foliage: About 3 inch long pleated oblong leaves; deciduous
Height: About 50 feet
Spread: About 30 feet
Shape: Oval to oval rounded

Main features

European hornbeam is a very attractive medium to large tree species. It has handsome pleated foliage and compact and symmetrical branching pattern, the latter two attributes confer a formal appearance. The cultivar ‘Fastigiata’ is the most common cultivar in the trade although there are a few clones in the nursery trade being sold with the ‘Fastigiata’ name. Regardless of the identity issue, ‘Fastigiata’ is fastigiate (narrow upright) in youth but is quite wide when mature (thus rendering its cultivar name a misnomer). This species is quite drought and urban tolerant. It is very tolerant of pruning and can be pruned to form a hedge (short or tall). There are several cultivars but these are generally available by placing a special request at your local garden center or through mail order nurseries.

Plant Needs

Zone: 5 to 7
Light: Full sun to part shade
Moisture: Average to dry
Soil type: Most soils except those that are not well-drained
pH range: Acid to alkaline


Where space allows, European hornbeam can serve as a specimen plant, in mass, and as a border. When pruned, it can be used as a short or tall hedge or barrier planting.


No special care is needed for this species.

Additional Information

A few of the notable cultivars are:

  • ‘Columnaris’ likely there is more than one clone with this name due to varying cultivar descriptions
  • ‘Cornerstone’ with a globe-shaped habit
  • Emerald Avenue™ a new introduction in 2011 by J. Frank Schmidt & Sons Nursery; dense form with deep green foliage and good heat tolerance
  • ‘Frans Fontaine’ similar to ‘Fastigiata’

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

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.

Publication Date

November 3, 2010

Other resources in:

Other resources by:

Other resources from: