Hornbeam Blue Beech Ironwood Water Beech

=Habitat and Range.=--Low, wet woods, and margins of swamps.

Province of Quebec to Georgian bay.

Rather common throughout New England, less frequent towards the coast.

South to Florida; west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indian

territory, and Texas.

=Habit.=--A low, spreading tree, 10-30 feet high, with a trunk diameter

of 6-12 inches, rarely reac
ing 2 feet; trunk short, often given a

fluted appearance by projecting ridges running down from the lower

branches to the ground; in color and smoothness resembling the beech;

lower branches often much declined, upper going out at various angles,

often zigzag but keeping the same general direction; head wide, close,

flat-topped to rounded, with fine, slender spray.

=Bark.=--Trunk smooth, close, dark bluish-gray; branchlets grayish;

season's shoots light green turning brown, more or less hairy.

=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Leaf-buds small, oval or ovoid, acute to

obtuse. Leaves simple, alternate, 2-3 inches long, dull green above,

lighter beneath, turning to scarlet or crimson in autumn; outline ovate

or slightly obovate oblong or broadly oval, irregularly and sharply

doubly serrate; veins prominent and pubescent beneath, at least when

young; apex acuminate to acute; base rounded, truncate, acute, or

slightly and unevenly heart-shaped; leafstalk rather short, slender,

hairy; stipules pubescent, falling early.

=Inflorescence.=--May. Sterile flowers from growth of the preceding

season in short, stunted-looking, lateral catkins, mostly single; scales

ovate or rounded, obtuse, each subtending several stamens; filaments

very short, mostly 2-forked; anthers bearded at the tip: fertile flowers

at the ends of leafy shoots of the season, in loose catkins; bractlets

foliaceous, each subtending a green, ovate, acute, ciliate, deciduous

scale, each scale subtending two pistils with long reddish styles.

=Fruit.=--In terminal catkins made conspicuous by the pale green, much

enlarged, and leaf-like 3-lobed bracts, each bract subtending a

dark-colored, sessile, striate nutlet.

=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; prefers moist,

rich soil, near running water, on the edges of wet land or on rocky

slopes in shade. Its irregular outline and curiously ridged trunk make

it an interesting object in landscape plantations. It is not often used,

however, because it is seldom grown in nurseries, and collected plants

do not bear removal well. Propagated from the seed.

1. Winter buds.

2. Flowering branch.

3. Sterile flower, back view.

4. Sterile flower, front view.

5. Fertile catkin.

6. Fertile flower.

7. Fruiting branch.


Inflorescence.--In scaly catkins, sterile and fertile on the same tree,

appearing with or before the leaves from shoots of the previous

season,--sterile catkins terminal and lateral, formed in summer, erect

or inclined in the bud, drooping when expanded in the following spring;

sterile flowers usually 3, subtended by a shield-shaped bract with 2

bractlets; each flower consisting of a 1-scaled calyx and 2 anthers,

which appear to be 4 from the division of the filaments into two parts,

each of which bears an anther cell: fertile catkins erect or inclined at

the end of very short leafy branchlets; fertile flowers subtended by a

3-lobed bract falling with the nuts; bractlets none; calyx none; corolla

none; consisting of 2-3 ovaries crowned with 2 spreading styles.

=Betula lenta, L.=