The common hornbeam is native to most of Europe including Southern England, but not Ireland. While it grows well here it did not reach Ireland naturally after the last ice age. Its superficial appearance is somewhat like the beech tree, both in the leaf shape and the grey colour of the bark. However the leaves are more distinctly toothed than those of beech and the trunk is almost always twisted and grooved. The example (shown below) in Belfast Botanic Gardens is one of the largest hornbeams in the North of Ireland and may well date back to the founding of the Gardens. There are a number of cultivars of this species including a fastigiate one which is becoming common as a small tidy street tree.
|Common hornbeam in Belfast Botanic Gardens||Common hornbeam|
|Grooved and twisted trunk of common hornbeam||Common hornbeam leaves|
Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.
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