from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), illustration: A branch with inflorescences, B branch with leaves and fruit bunches

Hornbeam ( Carpinus betulus ), illustration: A branch with inflorescences, B branch with leaves and fruit bunches

Eurosiden I
Order : Beech-like (Fagales)
Family : Birch family (Betulaceae)
Subfamily : Hazelnut family (Coryloideae)
Genre : Hornbeam ( Carpinus )
Type : Hornbeam
Scientific name
Carpinus betulus

The ( Common ) hornbeam ( Carpinus betulus ), also white beech , hornbeam or horn tree (engl. Hornbeam called) and belongs to the genus of hornbeam ( Carpinus ) from the family of the birch family (Betulaceae). It grows as a medium-sized, deciduous tree or shrub in Europe and Western Asia .
Contrary to what its German-language name suggests, it is not closely related to the common beech ( Fagus sylvatica ) (the only beech species represented in Central Europe ). Rather, this belongs to the genus of beeches ( Fagus ) within the beech family (Fagaceae). Only hornbeam and red beech belong to the same order ( beech-like (Fagales)).


The names hornbeam as well as hornbeam are derived from the Old High German Haganbuoche, where hag means fence, hedge and refers to the ability of the plant to cut. From the Middle Ages on, the first, younger name stands for “ Hain“ small forest as a word formation for “ Hag” , since hornbeams are climate-tolerant and also thrive in the open field and can therefore form groves. The second part of the name beech comes from its external resemblance to the common beech (size, shape and nerve pattern of the leaves, smooth bark); however, hornbeams and beeches are completely different in other characteristics (habit, fruits). The adjective hanebuchen comes from Hagebuche for coarse, coarse (hard, tough wood ).

The name white beech is based on the hornbeam's light wood color, in contrast to red beech.


Free-standing specimen in winter
Free-standing copy in summer

The hornbeam is a deciduous deciduous tree that reaches heights of up to 25 meters and trunk diameters of up to one meter. In the Caucasus , the tree can reach heights of up to 35 meters. The maximum age is around 150 years. In closed stands, the trunks form shafts eight to ten meters long, in extreme cases up to 18 meters long. The trunk usually has an irregular cross-section ( spine ). Often the trunk is crooked.

The branches of young trees are oriented vertically and bend horizontally with age. The crowns are dense and consist of broad branches in the lower areas and vertically oriented branches in the upper areas. Free-standing trees form mighty, broad-oval crowns.

Buds, leaves, young shoots

Double-sawn hornbeam leaf

The winter buds are spindle-shaped and 5–8 millimeters long. They are close to the drive. The bud scales are brown to red-brown and ciliate on the edge. The flower buds are slightly larger and less pointed than vegetative buds.

The alternate dark green leaves are 4–10 centimeters long, two to four centimeters wide, ovoid and pointed at the end, the base is pointed to rounded, also truncated, sometimes oblique or heart-shaped. The leaf margin is double serrated. There are 10 to 15 parallel, pronounced pairs of leaves that make the leaves appear folded. The underside of the leaves is initially hairy (at least in the corners of the leaf veins), but later glabrous. The autumn color is bright yellow, the leaves are partly brown and stick to the branches until spring.

The young shoots are shiny brown (to greenish brown) and slightly hairy. They later turn brownish-gray and bald. They have numerous white, elliptical lenticels .

Flowers and fruits

Seedling with the two typical lens-shaped cotyledons
Seedling with roots
Carpinus betulus
Hornbeam pollen grain (400 ×)

Hornbeams are monoecious , i. that is, they have male and female flowers , but they occur on one individual. The flowers lack the petals . The inflorescences are catkins . Flowers are created on the young shoots, overwinter as a bud, pollination takes place by the wind. Flowering time is in April and May.

The male flowers stand individually in the many-flowered, axillary, sitting, cylindrical catkins. They appear just before the leaf shoots. These are pendulous, four to six inches long and yellow-green. A flower consists of four to twelve initially light green, later brownish, divided stamens with a hair-tipped anthers per branch. One flower envelope is missing. Each flower is in the armpit of a bright green, bräunlichspitzigen, breiteiförmigen, pointed, ciliated supporting sheet , bracteoles absent.

The female, hairy flowers stand next to each other, in twos in the axilla of an egg-shaped, ciliate, pointed, sloping bract and they each have two bracts and a bract (cover of the missing bloom of the dichasium ), these are initially fine-haired. Multi-flowered, stalked, first upright then hanging, initially green, later light brown, two to four centimeters long catkins form together, these are terminal. They only appear when the leaves shoot. At the ripening time (August / September) the fruit heads are up to 17 centimeters long.

The upper, double ovary has two threadlike, red, protruding scars. The ovules have two integuments , the embryo sac develops according to the polygonum type. Fertilization takes place chalazogam , development of the endosperm is nuclear.

The fruit is a small, initially yellowish-green, later brownish, longitudinally ribbed, flattened, broad-shaped, single-seeded, hard nut about 6 to 9 mm long and 5 to 6 mm wide, which is crowned by the constant perianth and remnants of scars. The shell has a paper tegmen (inside of the seed shell or testa). The thousand grain mass is 3 to 10 grams.

In the axilla, the nut is enveloped in the three-lobed, spear-shaped and wing-like intergrowth (wing fruit). This wing-like leaf is three to five centimeters long and initially green, later when the fruit ripens it dries up, becomes paper-like and light brown. It serves as a wing when the wind spreads and initially supplies the developing fruit with assimilates. The fruits peel off only during the winter months and describe a helical trajectory; Helicopter (Ptero meteorochorie ).

Chromosome number

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 64.

Roots and mycorrhizae

Hornbeams form deep heart roots in deep soils . In damp soils, the roots are concentrated in the top 35 centimeters, which is why the trees in such locations are susceptible to windthrow.

The species forms several forms of ecto mycorrhizal symbioses, but does not prefer a specific partner. Around 25 species of mushroom mushrooms are known to be symbionts , but only a few of the sac fungi and deuteromycetes .

Wood and bark

Technical wood data
Bulk density (r 11 ) 0.69-0.95 g cm −3
Compressive strength 64.7 MPa
tensile strenght 104.9 MPa
Flexural strength 105.0 MPa
Shear strength 8.33 MPa
Hornbeam wood
Bark of an old tree

The wood of the hornbeam is white to grayish-white, which earned it the name white beech in contrast to the reddish wood of the red beech. There are no color differences between sapwood and heartwood . The wood is built up evenly, annual rings are difficult to see. The wood of the hornbeam is very hard and heavy, it is harder than that of the beech and oak ( Brinell hardness 36 N / mm 2 ). This characteristic has given the hornbeam - like some other tree species - the name iron tree . The average density is 0.82 g / cm 3 . The wood has the following composition on average: 18 to 28 percent lignin , 43 to 49 percent cellulose , 19 to 27 percent pentosane .

The bark is gray, thin and smooth. It can tear lengthways in old trees. Annual rings approx. 0.12 millimeters wide also form within the bark.


Although the genus Carpinus fossil is already known from the Tertiary , the hornbeam can only be detected in sediments from the Quaternary . The ice age refuges of the hornbeam were in southern Europe and in the Caucasus. From approx. 7000 BC They immigrated to Central Europe. 5000 to 4000 BC It was already widespread. Around 2000 BC It had reached its present size.


Distribution of the hornbeam

The area of ​​the hornbeam encloses Central Europe, Northern Anatolia , the Caucasus and the Elbursgebirge . The northern border in Europe runs from southwest England via northern Belgium to northern Denmark , where the hornbeam reaches its northernmost point at latitude 57 ° 30 'north. The border continues via southern Sweden through Latvia , Lithuania , Belarus and the Ukraine , where it only crosses the Dnieper slightly in an easterly direction. In the steppe regions bordering the Black Sea to the northwest, i.e. in southern Ukraine and in Dobruja , the hornbeam is absent, as is the case in Crimea . It occurs in the entire Caucasus and near the coast of the Caspian Sea in the Elbrus Mountains. The hornbeam is not found south of the Pyrenees , on Corsica , Sardinia and Sicily , but it is found on the Apennines and the Balkan Peninsula . In Anatolia, too, it occurs only in a narrow strip along the coast of the Black Sea.

The hornbeam grows at sea level near its northern border, in the mountains it rises to the following heights:

  • Central Europe: 700 to 1000 m
  • Maritime Alps: 1300 m
  • Caucasus: 2000 m
  • Elburs Mountains: 2300 m


Approx. 200 year old Schneitel beeches in the Sababurg primeval forest

The hornbeam is common in sub-oceanic climates. It tolerates warm summers, at its eastern and northern limit of distribution it can withstand temperatures down to −30 ° C.

In the south of the area it grows preferentially in damp, shady valleys or in rainy areas such as northern Anatolia, Colchis and on the northern slopes of the Caucasus and Elbrus. In the north of the area, the hornbeam needs relatively warmth and avoids exposed locations.

The hornbeam achieves optimum growth performance on nutrient-rich, mesotrophic to eutrophic soils that are fresh to periodically wet.

In Central Europe it usually grows on brown earth and pseudogley , which emerged from diluvial clay or clay-sand deposits. In southern Europe and in the mountains it grows on rendzinen , in south-eastern Europe on loess soils .

According to Heinz Ellenberg , the hornbeam has the following pointer values: penumbra to shadow plant, moderately warm to warm pointer, sub-oceanic, with a heavy weight in Central Europe, reaching to the east. The species is indifferent to moisture, number of reactions and nitrogen.

The hornbeam is the character species of the association of the oak-hornbeam forests (Carpinion betuli), but also occurs in bushes of the order Prunetalia.


Within the genus Carpinus , the hornbeam belongs to the Carpinus section. Already in 1753 it was described by Carl von Linné under the name Carpinus betulus , which is still valid today .

Several varieties can be distinguished, which are mainly used in horticulture:

  • Carpinus betulus var. Angustifolia (Medwed.) O. Radde with elongated leaves and conical, strongly ribbed fruits, from the Ukraine.
  • Carpinus betulus var. Carpinizza (host) Neilr. (Syn .: Carpinus betulus subsp. Carpinizza (Kil.) O.Schwarz ) with small, heart-shaped leaves with seven to nine pairs of veins, from Romania.
  • Carpinus betulus var. Parva O. Radde with small, very hairy leaves and distended fruits, from the Ukraine.

Furthermore, several decorative shapes have also been created:

  • 'Columnaris' - initially with a columnar crown, later ovoid to almost round, densely branched, slow-growing.
  • 'Fastigiata' - fast-growing, with a regular crown, initially columnar, broadly ovoid when old.
  • 'Fastigiata Monument' - compact and columnar, very slow-growing.
  • 'Frans Fontaine' - columnar to ovoid crown, slow growing and remains narrow with age.
  • 'Incisa' - with narrow, deeply lobed leaves.
  • 'Quercifolia' - with narrow, round lobed leaves.
  • 'Variegata' - with yellow spotted leaves.

Diseases and predators

There are more than 200 known types of fungus that can attack the hornbeam, including a number of powdery mildew and rust fungi. The hornbeam is attacked by the rust fungus Melampsoridium carpini with uredia and particles . The powdery mildew Phyllactinia guttata , Erysiphe arcuata and Erysiphe carpinicola colonize the leaves. Taphrina carpini produces large witch brooms on hornbeams. Of the wood-destroying fungi, the white rot pathogens are particularly important, although there are no hornbeam-specific species. Among the more than 70 insect - and mite species that attack the hornbeam, few specialize in the hornbeam, such as the cochineal Parthenolecanium rufulum Cockerell and the bark beetle Scolytus carpini Ratz .

Young plants can be bitten by red deer and roe deer , seedlings and fruits are eaten by various rodents.


Wood cross-section with false core
Existing with hornbeams that were previously cut

The economic importance of the hornbeam is rather low today. Because of its density and hardness, the wood is used for the production of parquet and certain tools, for example plane soles , for tool books and chopping blocks. In piano construction one uses the wood z. B. for the hammer handles and lifting links. The earlier areas of application were far more extensive: looms, cogwheels, folding rules, shoe lasts, wheelwright , agricultural equipment and much more.

The hornbeam provides excellent firewood, which, however, is extremely difficult to split when dry; Freshly felled hornbeam wood is easy to split. The main use of hornbeams used to be in this application. In Central Europe, the hornbeam was indirectly strongly promoted by humans in the past, since it had a clear competitive advantage over the common beech in the coppice forests that are used for firewood production due to its high cane growth.

Already in Roman times, but also during the Thirty Years' War , weir hedges ( land forces ) were largely planted from hornbeams in Central Europe. The rose bushes were hacked with axes and bent over. So they grew - together with blackberries , dog roses and other thorn bushes - to impenetrable structures called kinky, weirwood, landheeg or Gebück . In the 11th century, for example, Kurmainz put on a landwehr, the Rheingau Gebück , which demarcated the entire Rheingau between Nieder-Walluf and Lorchhausen from the Taunus. The Landwehr was 50 to 100 paces wide and only had openings in a few places. A shark court took care of the maintenance. Many place names with the endings -hagen and -hain point to such land forces.

In the past, hornbeams were often cut regularly to obtain fodder for the cattle. This resulted in bizarre, gnarled and often hollow tree shapes that can still be found in some forests today.

As a medicinal plant , the hornbeam is used in Bach flower therapy ( hornbeam , English name for the hornbeam) against fatigue and exhaustion and in traditional medicine according to Hildegard von Bingen against white skin spots ( vitiligo ). In the latter case, the warmed hornbeam chips are pressed onto the affected areas of the skin.

In gardens, hornbeams are often planted as a cut hedge because of their good throwing capacity and their dense foliage. They are also used as avenue trees, for which there are narrow-crowned varieties. The hornbeam was tree of the year in Austria in 2007.

More common names

For the hornbeam, there are or existed, in some cases only regionally, the other German-language trivial names : Buchasche, Bucheschern, Flegelholz, Haanböke ( Unterweser , Holstein ), Haböke (Holstein), Häneböke ( Göttingen ), Hagabuache ( St. Gallen ), Hagenbocha ( Old High German ), Hagenbucha (Old High German), Hagenpuocha (Old High German), Hagenpuoche (Old High German), Hagbeik ( Pomerania ), Hagböhk ( Mecklenburg ), Hagbuche, Hagbuoch ( Middle High German ), Hageboche (Old High German), Hageboche (Middle German), Hageböschebouche ), Hagebuche, Hagenbucha, Hagebuocha (Middle High German), Hagenbuocha (Middle High German), Hagenbutzbaum (Middle High German), Hagenpuch (Middle High German), Haginbuocha (Old High German), Hainbucha , Hockbuche ( Austria , East Prussia ), Hainschbuache (Göttingen, Hainebruache), Hambuche ( Alsace , Silesia ), Hanbuoche (Middle High German), Hanbuchen, Haonbok ( Altmark ), Hartbaum, Hatholz, Hanbuche, Hekebuche, Heginbouch (old high utsch), Heimbök (Altmark), Hoanbuchen ( Salzburg ), Hohnbach ( Transylvania ), Hombeach (Transylvania), Hornbaum, Hornbuche (Silesia), Hoster (Mecklenburg), Jochbaum, Leimpaum (Middle High German), Rauchbuche (in the sense of raublättrige, Hohenlohe ), Rolling wood , spindle tree, stone beech ( Bavaria around Eichstätt , Carinthia ), stone ridge wood (in the sense of rock hill wood , Vienna ), carrier beech, hornbeam (Austria, Silesia), Welgebaum, Wieglbaum, Wielholzbaum, Wittboike (Altmark, Göttingen, Weser ), fenced beech and dwarf beech.


  • Horst Bartels: Wood science: Introduction to dendrology. UTB Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-8252-1720-5 .
  • Adam Boratyński: Carpinus betulus. In: P. Schütt et al. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of the deciduous trees. Nikol, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-937872-39-6 , pp. 165-176.
  • Doris Laudert: The myth of the tree. History, customs. 40 portraits. blv, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-405-16640-3 , pp. 129-131.
  • Peter Kiermeier: Handbook of wild trees. Verlag Grün ist Leben, Pinneberg 2000, ISBN 3-934480-09-8 , pp. 30-31.
  • Heinrich Rubner : The hornbeam in Central and Western Europe. Investigations into their original locations and their support by medium-sized forest management. (= Research on German regional studies. Volume 121). Federal Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Research, Bad Godesberg 1960.

Web links

Wiktionary: hornbeam  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Hornbeam  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ H. Marshall Ward: Trees. Vol. III: Flowers and Inflorenscences. ( Cambridge Biological Series ), Cambridge University Press, 1905, archive.org , Reprint: Forgotten Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1-330-30448-8 , p. 243 ff.
  2. Vít Bojnanský, Agáta Fargašová: Atlas of Seeds and Fruits of Central and East-European flora. Springer, 2007, ISBN 978-1-4020-5362-7 , p. 25.
  3. Alexander C. Martin, William D. Barkley: Seed Identification Manual. Univ. of Calif. Press, 1961, 1973, ISBN 0-520-00814-6 , p. 143.
  4. ^ The CABI Encyclopedia of Forest Trees. CABI, 2013, ISBN 978-1-78064-236-9 , p. 102.
  5. Thomas Stützel: Botanical determination exercises. 3. Edition. Ulmer, 2015, ISBN 978-3-8252-8549-4 , pp. 88 f.
  6. a b Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas. 8th edition. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 , p. 312.
  7. ^ Carpinus betulus at Tropicos.org. In: IPCN Chromosome Reports . Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.
  8. Boratyński: Carpinus betulus. 2006, p. 170.
  9. a b Laudert: Myth Tree. 2006, p. 131.
  10. HH Dietrichs: Chemisch technologische Merkblätter. Federal Research Institute for Forestry and Wood Management Hamburg.
  11. Adam Boratyński: Carpinus betulus. 2006, p. 167.
  12. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum. Volume 2, 1753, p. 998.
  13. Boratyński: Carpinus betulus. 2006, p. 167.
  14. Boratyński: Carpinus betulus. 2006, p. 171.
  15. Peter Zwetko: The rust mushrooms Austria. Supplement and host-parasite directory to the 2nd edition of the Catalogus Florae Austriae, III. Part, Book 1, Uredinales. (PDF; 1.8 MB).
  16. L. Vajna: Powdery mildew Caused by Erysiphe carpinicola on Carpinus betulus in Hungary: the first European report. New Disease Reports (2006) 12, 45. (online)
  17. Friedemann Klenke, Markus Scholler: Plant Parasitic Small Mushrooms: Identification book for fire, rust, powdery mildew, flagellate mushrooms and usury relatives in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol . Springer-Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-662-46162-4 , pp. 261 ( accessed from Google Books ).
  18. Sven Gunnar Ryman & Ingmar Holmåsen: Mushrooms, p 678. Bernhard Thalacker Verlag, Braunschweig 1992, ISBN 3-87815-043-1 .
  19. Laudert: Myth Tree. 2006, pp. 130-131.
  20. Hertzka: Great Hildegard pharmacy. Christiana-Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-7171-1119-1 .
  21. The Tree of the Year. In: Kuratorium Wald. Himmel Management & Betriebs GmbH, accessed on February 17, 2017 .
  22. ^ Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hannover 1882, p. 83, archive.org .
This article was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 17, 2007 in this version .