Herb: Ironwood


Latin name: Ostrya virginiana


Synonyms: Carpinus ostrya, Carpinus virginiana, Ostrya virginica


Family: Betulaceae (Birch Family)



Medicinal use of Ironwood:

The bark is astringent, blood tonic and haemostatic. A decoction of the bark is used to bathe sore muscles. An infusion of the bark can be held in the mouth to relieve the pain of toothache. An infusion of the heartwood has been used in the treatment of lung haemorrhages, coughs and colds, catarrh and kidney problems. It is also used as a herbal steam bath in the treatment of rheumatism.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
15 m
(49 feet)

Flovering:
September

Habitat of the herb:

Rich moist woods, it is also found on dry gravelly slopes and ridges, often in the shade of oaks and other large trees.

Other uses of Ironwood:

Wood - close-grained, very hard, very strong, durable. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot. The wood is of a very high quality but the tree is not large enough to be used commercially. It is used locally for posts, mallets, tool handles and applications where resistance to wear is essential. A very good fuel, though it is almost impossible to split.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it normally germinates in spring. The germination rate is variable but usually good. "Green" seed, harvested when the embryo has fully formed but before the outer coat has dried, sown immediately in a cold frame germinates very well. Stored seed requires stratification, 3 months warm then 5 months cold usually works well but germination can take 18 months. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of Ironwood:

Rich moist woods, it is also found on dry gravelly slopes and ridges, often in the shade of oaks and other large trees.

Known hazards of Ostrya virginiana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.