Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)

Ironwood photograph; ? MN DNR, Welby Smith

Form

Height 20' to 40', diameter 5" to 12"; top generally rounded; branches long and slender, drooping at ends. The tree receives its common names from the quality of its wood and hoplike fruit.

Bark

Light gray brown; furrowed and irregularly ridged.

Leaf

Simple, alternate on stem, length 2" to 4"; generally oblong with narrow tip; sharp, doubly toothed margins; dark, dull, yellow-green above and light yellow green below; dull yellow in autumn.

Fruit (seed)

Occurs in clusters (catkins) resembling those of the common hop vine; each sack contains one flattened, ribbed, hard nutlet about 1/3" long and 1/8" wide; fruit ripens in July and August.

Range

Found mostly in rich, not-too-dry soil throughout the state, but scattered or absent near the western border; very shade tolerant, slow growing. Frequently forms an understory in forests of mixed hardwoods.