Hornbeam leaves and flowers are coming out now in early April. The Common Hornbeam is native to Southern England and is also found throughout Europe and Turkey. It is a medium-sized tree and can grow to 30m. It is common in hedgerows and woods and has been planted in many parks and gardens. Its wood is too hard to be used in general carpentry but has been used in hard wearing tasks such as chopping blocks and cog-wheels. In Epping Forest Hornbeams were pollarded to provide firewood. The tree can be confused with the Common Beech but its oval leaves are toothed not smooth-edged. The bark of the tree is very unusual. It is smooth, like the Beech, but is patterned with distinctive silver-grey vertical lines. Male catkins appear in spring and the bracts that held the fruit hang on the tree through winter.
A mature Common Hornbeam in August.