Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)

ironwood leaves

Click on the images help you identify an Ironwood.

 

Form

Height 20' to 40', diameter 5" to 12"; top generally rounded; branches long and slender, drooping at ends. Also known as eastern hophornbeam. The tree receives its common names from its extremely tough wood and hop like 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.

Wood uses

Very strong, hard, heavy, durable, light brown with thick, pale sapwood; used for fence posts, handles of tools, mallets and other small articles, and fuel. Attractive ornamental tree.