Common Name: ironwood, eastern hop hornbeam

Scientific Name: 
Genus: Ostrya
Species: virginiana

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 25 to 40 ft
Width: 20 to 30 ft

Common characteristics:

The ironwood grows to heights of 20 to 40' and 5 to 12" wide. It grows a rounded canopy. The branches are long and slender often drooping at the ends. Its bark is light gray-brown, which is furrowed and ridged. Leaves are simple and grow alternately on the stem, they are 2 to 4" in length and are oblong and doubly serrate. They are a dull yellow-green in the summer and yellow in the fall. The fruits of this tree occur in clusters that resemble hops. The fruit ripens in July and August. Also known as eastern hophornbeam. The tree receives its common names from its extremely tough wood and hops like fruit. 

Where it grows:

Prefers moist, well-drained soils. It will tolerate dry sites and alkaline soils. It prefers full sun to partial shade, naturally occurs in dry woodland understory. It can tolerate dry gravelly soils in partial shade once established. Difficult to transplant and slow to establish. Not tolerant of salt. Prune in late winter or early spring.

How it’s used:

This tree is well suited for use in parks and lawns as a shade or specimen tree. It does not tolerate road salts well and is not recommended for boulevards. 

Ecosystem services:

This tree is used by songbirds, small mammals, and browse animals.  

Where it is native to:

Native to the Midwest and the southeastern United States.


Not susceptible to any serious insect or disease problems. 


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (Ostrya virginiana) Found online:

Missouri Botanical Garden. (Plant Finder) Found Online:

The Morton Arboretum. (Trees & Plants) Found Online:


Ironwood bark
Ironwood fruit
Ironwood twig
Ironwood foliage
Ironwood catkin
Ironwood fruit
Ironwood fruit
Ironwood Bud