The Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is very similar to Green Beech although slightly more informal. Hornbeam is ideal for use on heavier clay soils where Beech will not thrive and gives a similar effect holding its bronzed leaves throughout the winter months. The leaves provide food for some animals, including Lepidoptera such as the case-bearer moth Coleophora anatipennella.
Hornbeam plants are shade tolerant. Hornbeam leaves are deeply veined mid green in colour with serrated edges, similar to Beech, the difference being Beech leaves have wavy edges. Hornbeam produces catkins in early summer and small fruits later. Hornbeam wood is very tough, it can easily blunt blades. It is also known as ironwood.
To create a thick Hornbeam hedge it should be planted at a rate of five plants per metre. trim once a year, and twice if you want the more manicured look.
Hornbeam can also make a valuable addition to a native farm hedge. Mixed native farm hedges are excellent for attracting birds and other wildlife as they play host to insects, berries and other valuable food sources for wildlife. Native mixed hedgerows also offer some winter protection for wildlife.
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