American hophornbeam

(Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana)

Conservation Status
American hophornbeam
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


American hophornbeam, also known as ironwood, is an small, slow-growing, short-lived, deciduous tree that rises on a single trunk. It is considered a weed tree. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 25 to 40 tall and 6 to 12 in diameter at breast height.

The crown is broad and rounded or cone-shaped.

The trunk is erect, often crooked, and distinct almost to the top of the tree.

The bark on young trees is smooth and chestnut brown, quickly becoming gray and rough. On mature trees the bark is grayish-brown and is broken into short, narrow, vertical strips that are loose at both ends. The strips often spiral somewhat around the trunk. They are fibrous and easily rub off.

The branches are long, slender, and spreading.

The twigs are slender, reddish brown, zigzagging, and hairy.

The buds are egg-shaped, pointed, slightly hairy, and greenish brown with green scale tips. They spread away from the twig.

The leaves are deciduous, alternate, and simple. They are narrowly egg-shaped or elliptic. usually widest near the middle, 2 to 5 long, and 1 to 2 wide. They are rounded or shallowly heart-shaped at the base. They usually taper to an abrupt, narrow point at the tip with concave sides along the tip. Sometimes they taper gradually to a point at the tip with straight or concave sides along the tip. The upper surface is dark yellowish green and hairless. The lower surface is the same color but hairy, felty and soft to the touch. The veins are straight and parallel and end in a tooth. The margins are sharply toothed, often doubly toothed, from the tip to the base. In the fall the leaves turn dull yellow. Dead leaves tend to remain on the tree throughout the winter.

Male and female flowers are in separate clusters on the same tree. Male inflorescences are dense, drooping, 1 to 2 long catkins in groups of 2 or 3 at the ends of the twigs. In the winter they are short, stiff, and erect. Female inflorescences are in loose, elongated clusters at the ends of new shoots.

The fruits are small, 3 16 to 5 16 long, flattened, nuts enclosed in a flattened, egg-shaped, about 13 16 long, inflated, papery sac. The fruit clusters are 2 to 4 long, have 4 to 10 sacs each, and resemble hops.




25 to 40




The champion ironwood in Minnesota is on private property near Wells, in Faribault County. In 1998 it was measured at 40 tall and 125.5 in circumference (39.9 in diameter), with a crown spread of 58.5.


Flower Color




Similar Species


Moist. Upland deciduous forests, well-drained floodplains. Shade tolerant.




April to May


Pests and Diseases


Ironwood leaf gall maker (Eriophyes sp.) creates a small, reddish, smooth, pocket gall on the upper side of the leaf and a small tuft of hairs on the lower side.




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fagales (beeches, oaks, walnuts, and allies)  


Betulaceae (birch)  
  Subfamily Coryloideae  


Ostrya (hop-hornbeams)  
  Species Ostrya virginiana (eastern hophornbeam)  

There are two subspecies of Ostrya virginiana. Only Ostrya virginiana ssp. virginiana occurs in North America north of Mexico.


Subordinate Taxa




Carpinus virginiana

Ostrya guatemalensis

Ostrya italica var. guatemalensi

Ostrya mexicana

Ostrya virginiana var. glandulosa

Ostrya virginiana var. guatemalensis

Ostrya virginiana var. lasia


Common Names


American hophornbeam

eastern hop hornbeam

eastern hophornbeam

eastern hop-hornbeam

hop hornbeam
















A slim, cylindrical, drooping cluster of many flowers. The flowers have no petals and are either male or female but not both.


Simple leaf

A leaf that is not divided into leaflets, though it may be deeply lobed or cleft.

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Eastern hophornbeam, Ostrya Virginiana, growing wild in White's Woods Park, Freeborn County, MN, late November 2016


  American hophornbeam  


    American hophornbeam   American hophornbeam  

This understory species tends to retain withered, peach-colored leaves into winter, similar to young American Beech

  American hophornbeam  
        American hophornbeam  


    American hophornbeam      


    American hophornbeam   American hophornbeam  
    American hophornbeam   American hophornbeam  


    American hophornbeam   American hophornbeam  


    American hophornbeam   American hophornbeam  



  Ostrya virginiana
Blake C. Willson
  Ostrya virginiana  

American Hop-Hornbeam

  Ostrya virginiana

Published on Nov 20, 2013

No description available.




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Other Videos
  Trees with Don Leopold - eastern hophornbeam

Uploaded on Oct 2, 2011

No description available.

  Hop hornbeam (Ostraya virginiana)

Uploaded on Feb 23, 2012

Some views of the old knobby Hop hornbeams (Ostraya virginiana) in the woods in late winter.




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late November, 2016

Location: White's Woods Park, Freeborn County, MN

growing wild in White's Woods Park

American hophornbeam  

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Beaver Creek Valley State Park

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Boot Lake SNA

Brownsville Bluff SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Bur Oak WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carley State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clear Lake SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow Wing State Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Crystal Spring SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Flandrau State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Great River Bluffs State Park

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Greenwater Lake SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hastings SNA

Hemlock Ravine SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Itasca State Park

Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary SNA

John A. Latsch State Park

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Kasota Prairie SNA

Kilen Woods State Park

La Salle Lake SNA

Laible Woods

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lawrence Creek SNA

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Lost 40 SNA

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Mille Lacs WMA

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Monson Lake State Park

Mound Prairie SNA

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Partch Woods SNA

Paul Bunyan Savanna

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Creek Woods SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Ripley Esker SNA

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rushford Sand Barrens SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

St. Croix State Park

Sakatah Lake State Park

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Springs WMA

Sibley State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Regional Park

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Sunfish Lake Park

Swedes Forest SNA

Thompson County Park

Townsend Woods SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodland Trails Regional Park







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