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Ostrya virginiana

Ostrya virginiana , Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fagales

Familia: Betulaceae
Subfamilia: Coryloideae
Genus: Ostrya
Species: Ostrya virginiana
Subspecies: O. v. subsp. guatemalensis – O. v. subsp. virginiana

Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K.Koch, Dendrologie 2(2): 6 (1873).

Carpinus virginiana Mill., Gard. Dict. ed. 8: n.º 4 (1768).
Zugilus virginica Raf., Fl. Ludov.: 159 (1817), nom. superfl.
Ostrya italica subsp. virginiana (Mill.) H.J.P.Winkl. in H.G.A.Engler (ed.), Pflanzenr., IV, 61: 22 (1904).

Native distribution areas:

Northern America
Western Canada
Eastern Canada
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward I., Québec.
Northwestern U.S.A.
North-Central U.S.A.
Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin.
Northeastern U.S.A.
Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia.
South-Central U.S.A.
Southeastern U.S.A.
Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, District of Columbia.
Mexico Central, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southwest, Mexico Southeast.
Southern America
Central America
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Koch, K.H.E. 1872–1873. Dendrologie. Bäume, Sträucher und Halbsträucher, welche in Mittel- und Nord-Europa im Freien kultivirt werden. Kritisch beleuchtet von Karl Koch. Zweiter Theil. 424 pp., Erlangen: Ferdinand Enke. BHL Reference page.

Additional references

Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Tampa etc.: Univ. Press of Florida, ISBN 0-8130-0748-8, 472 pp. Reference page.
Furlow, J.J. 1997. Ostrya virginiana. Pp. - in Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.), Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 3: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. 590 pp. Oxford University Press, New York / Oxford, ISBN 0-19-511246-6. efloras Reference page.
Nelson Sutherland, C.H. 2008. Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas. xxix + 1576 pp. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. ISBN 978-99926-44-80-5 Reference page.
García-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) 2012. Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies). Ed. 2. 351 pp. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. ISBN 978-607-02-2434-8. Reference page.


Stritch, L., Shaw, K., Roy , S. & Wilson, B. 2014. Ostrya virginiana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014. IUCN Red List Category: Least Concern. DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T194540A2346581.en.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Ostrya virginiana in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2021 March 12. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Ostrya virginiana. Published online. Accessed: 12 March 2021.

Vernacular names
English: American Hophornbeam
suomi: Amerikanhumalapyökki
slovenščina: Virginijski gaber
Türkçe: Amerika kayacığı

Ostrya virginiana, the American hophornbeam, is a species of Ostrya native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Manitoba and eastern Wyoming, southeast to northern Florida and southwest to eastern Texas.[4] Populations from Mexico and Central America are also regarded as the same species, although some authors prefer to separate them as a distinct species, Ostrya guatemalensis.[3] Other names include eastern hophornbeam, hardhack (in New England), ironwood, and leverwood.[5][6]


American hophornbeam is a small deciduous understory tree growing to 18 m (59 ft) tall and 20–50 centimetres (8–20 in) trunk diameter. The bark is brown to gray-brown, with narrow shaggy plates flaking off, while younger twigs and branches are smoother and gray, with small lenticels.[5][7] Very young twigs are sparsely fuzzy to thickly hairy; the hairs (trichomes) drop off by the next year.[8]

The leaves are ovoid-acute, 5–13 cm (2–5 in) long and 4–6 cm (1+1⁄2–2+1⁄4 in) broad, pinnately veined, with a doubly serrated margin. The upper surface is mostly hairless, while the lower surface is sparsely to moderately fuzzy (rarely densely hairy).[5][7]

The flowers are catkins (spikes) produced in early spring at the same time as the new leaves appear. The staminate (male) catkins are 2–5 cm (3⁄4–2 in) long,[5] and arranged in groups of 1–4.[7] The pistillate (female) catkins are 8–15 mm (5⁄16–19⁄32 in) long, containing 10–30 flowers each.[5]

Pollinated female flowers develop into small nutlets 3–5 mm (1⁄8–3⁄16 in) long fully enclosed in a papery sac-shaped involucre 10–18 mm (3⁄8–11⁄16 in) long and 8–10 mm (5⁄16–3⁄8 in) wide.[5] The involucre changes from greenish-white to dull brown as the fruit matures.[7]

American hophornbeam is similar to its close relative American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), which can be distinguished by its smooth bark and nutlets enclosed in open, three-lobed bracts.[7]

An exceptionally large trunk


There are two subspecies:

Ostrya virginiana subsp. guatemalensis (H.J.P.Winkl.) A.E.Murray – central and southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador[9]
Ostrya virginiana subsp. virginiana – eastern half of United States, eastern Canada

Populations along the Atlantic coast have slightly smaller leaves, and are sometimes separated as O. virginiana var. lasia Fernald.[5]
Habitat and ecology

In temperate areas of the US and Canada, Ostrya virginiana is found in lowland and foothill forests, where it is predominantly an understory tree.[2]

In Mexico and Central America, Ostrya virginiana is found in cloud forests and humid portions of mid-elevation oak, pine–oak, and pine forests between 1200 and 2800 meters elevation.[10]

The buds and catkins are important source of winter food for some birds, notably ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus).[7] Additionally, the nutlets and buds are eaten by birds, deer, and rabbits.[1]

It is grown as an ornamental plant and is sometimes used as a street tree.

Its wood is very resilient and is valued for making tool handles and fence posts.

Being a diffuse porous hardwood and having extremely high density and resistance to compression, it is an excellent material for the construction of wooden longbows.

Little, Elbert L. (1980). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. New York: Knopf. p. 374. ISBN 0-394-50760-6.
Stritch, L.; Shaw, K.; Roy , S.; Wilson, B. (2014). "Ostrya virginiana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2014: e.T194540A2346581. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T194540A2346581.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
"Ostrya virginiana". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
"Ostrya virginiana". County-level distribution map from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014.
Furlow, John J. (1997). "Ostrya virginiana". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 3. New York and Oxford – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008). Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas: 1-1576. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Hilty, John (2016). "Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)". Illinois Wildflowers.
Chayka, Katy; Dziuk, Peter (2016). "Ostrya virginiana (Ironwood)". Minnesota Wildflowers.
Whittemore, Alan. "Ostrya virginiana". Flora Mesoamericana. Missouri Botanical Garden – via

Mario González-Espinosa, Jorge A. Meave, Francisco G. Lorea-Hernández, Guillermo Ibarra-Manríquez and Adrian C. Newton, eds (2011). The Red List of Mexican Cloud Forest Trees. Fauna & Flora International, Cambridge, UK. 2011. ISBN 9781903703281

Metzger, F. T. (1990). "Ostrya virginiana". In Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H. (eds.). Hardwoods. Silvics of North America. Washington, D.C.: United States Forest Service (USFS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Vol. 2 – via Southern Research Station.

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