Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)

ironwood leaves

Click on the images help you identify an Ironwood.



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.


Light gray brown; furrowed and irregularly ridged.


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.


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.

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