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Carpinus betulus
European hornbeam

European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is a medium-sized, slow-growing deciduous tree, characterized by brown leaves which remain attached until new green leaves appear in the spring. Its natural distribution range is from the Pyrenees in the west to Iran in east, with a northern limitation of southern Sweden.

The tree’s white wood is hard and difficult to process; hence, it is rarely used in construction. However, its timber is excellent for fuelwood due to its high calorific value.

The tree has the ability to regenerate from root suckers and is sometimes cultivated in coppice for fodder production. Different varieties of the species are also planted for ornamental purposes in parks and urban areas.

In a forest ecosystem, the European hornbeam usually grows as an understory tree in mixed stands with oak species, in particular. The tree colonizes disturbed areas, contributing to improved soil fertility for neighboring plants and rendering it useful in reforestation projects.

The fruit and buds of the tree are consumed by various birds, as well. In Europe, the tree is found in altitudes up to 1000 m. It is shade-tolerant and grows on various types of soil, but requires a certain amount of moisture. 

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