Herb: American Hornbeam


Latin name: Carpinus caroliniana


Synonyms: Carpinus americana


Family: Betulaceae (Birch Family)



Medicinal use of American Hornbeam:

American hornbeam was employed medicinally by some native North American Indian tribes, though it is not used in modern herbalism. The inner bark is astringent. An infusion has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea and difficult urination with discharge.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
12 m
(39 feet)

Flovering:
April
to May

Habitat of the herb:

Usually found as an understorey tree in rich woods and the borders of streams and swamps in deep rich moist soils.

Edible parts of American Hornbeam:

Seed - cooked. An emergency food, used when all else fails.

Other uses of the herb:

Wood - heavy, close grained, very hard, strong, but not very durable in the soil. It weighs 45lb per cubic foot. Too small to be exploited commercially, this high quality wood is often used locally for flooring, cogs, tool handles, golf clubs etc. It is especially suitable for making levers and is also a good fuel.

Propagation of American Hornbeam:

Seed - best sown in an outdoors seedbed as soon as it is ripe. Germination is usually good, though it may take 18 months. If collected whilst still "green" (after the seed is ripe but before it has dried fully on the plant) and sown immediately it should germinate in the following spring. Grow the plants on for two years in the seedbed and then plant them out into their permanent positions in the winter. The average seed viability is around 65%. Pre-treat stored seed with 4 weeks warm and 12 weeks cold stratification and sow in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame until they are at least 15cm tall before planting them into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Usually found as an understorey tree in rich woods and the borders of streams and swamps in deep rich moist soils.

Known hazards of Carpinus caroliniana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.