Species list


Carpinus betulus

European hornbeam

European hornbeam, common hornbeam (Eng), carpe (Spa), càrpinus (Cat), xarma, pago lizarra (Baq), cárpinus (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? In Central Europe it is thought that this tree is good for making divining rods.


Deciduous tree up to 25 m tall, with greyish bark. The trunk is grooved or undulating, as if it were muscular, and the young twigs are hairy. The leaves somewhat resemble the shape of Gothic arches, similar to those of the beech, with which this tree is sometimes confused, but they appear to be wrinkled up by the veins. They are 4-10 cm long and 3-5 cm wide, alternate, oval or rounded and have a pointed tip. Both female and male flowers are borne in spring, in separate hanging groups. The pollen of the male flowers is dispersed by the wind. The fruits are nuts in the form of tiny grooved pears that do not open when ripe (achenes). They develop in hanging clusters with three-lobed bracts (modified leaves), where the central lobe is longer than the lateral lobes. This also facilitates their dispersion by the wind.


The European hornbeam forms stands in mixed deciduous forests on nutrient-rich soils, preferably on limestones rather than silicates. It grows in temperate, humid climates. On the Iberian Peninsula it is found at altitudes around 200 m, and in general throughout its range it is not found above 1200 m.


This species comes from central Europe and southwestern Asia. It arrived naturally to the Iberian Peninsula only at the western end of the Pyrenees (Navarra) and it is found in some valleys in the Bidasoa basin. However, it has been taking hold in Huesca and Guipúzcoa, and is sometimes used as an ornamental in parks and gardens.