Ironwood - <em>Ostrya virginiana</em> - Zone 3 -

Ironwood - Ostrya virginiana - Zone 3

Ironwoods are small to medium trees native to eastern North America. They are extremely versatile trees with ample ornamental value. These understory trees are very shade-tolerant.

1-3 Feetsold-out$15.00$0.00
3-5 Feetsold-out$20.00$0.00

The Tree

Ironwoods are slow growers capable of reaching heights up to 12 metres with typically narrow trunks and spreads that can be equal to the height. They will develop irregularly rounded crowns and shallow root systems, with lifespans averaging around 100 years. The leaves are ovate, medium to dark green with sharply toothed edges. The bark is reddish/brown when young and as the tree ages the bark becomes more grey and develops a pattern of peeling vertical strips. The flowers appear in the form of catkins and the fruit are similar in appearance to hops hence its other common name "hop-hornbeam". These trees will grow in all but the most waterlogged soil conditions and show a pronounced tolerance to drought and very poor soil. They are one of the most shade tolerant of our North American natives and have a marked sensitivity to salt.

Its Uses

Ironwoods are attractive ornamental and shade trees and with their adaptability there is a place to be found for them in every landscape. Their primary ornamental features are the bark and elegant form but the foliage offers a subtle beauty as well. They are low-maintenance trees that do not create a lot of mess. As a landscaping tree, special consideration should be taken not to plant too close to roadsides given the salt sensitivity. Their ability to thrive in even very poor soils gives them great potential for land reclamation projects. The wood of these trees as one would expect from the name is extremely dense and hard. It is the densest of all the native North American trees. It is not widely used commercially due to the small size of the trees but is prized for tool handles, and other small implements for which strength and durability are key. It makes excellent fuel wood but requires enormous effort to cut and split.

Height at maturity12 metres (40 feet)
Spacing6 metres (20 feet)
Hardiness zone3
Sun / shadeadaptable
Average fruit weightNA
Fruit colorNA
Years to bear fruitNA
Latin nameOstrya virginiana
Average diameter of fruitNA
Also known asHop Hornbeam