Hornbeams are often to be found on clay soils through the South East (growing to a height of 20M), common in places like the Epping and Hainault Forests. The tree provides a habitat for the larvae (caterpillar stage) of a number of moth species (such as Autumnal Moth,and the Common Emerald).
In the past, they were often managed / coppiced for charcoal production. The wood is hard and was used for wheel hubs (for carts etc), cogwheels for windmills or similar, and chopping blocks.
The leaf is quite long (7 – 12 cm) but has a relatively short leaf stalk or petiole. The leaf edge (margin) is serrated / toothed – there are many, small ‘teeth’ – see image below.
The leaf blade (lamina) is slightly corrugated as it is divided up by (ten – thirteen) pairs of ‘sunken’ veins. The underside of these veins may be hairy, as is the leaf stalk. The leaves have an alternate arrangement on the stem.
In the Autumn, the leaves turn yellow / orange and may persist on the tree for some time.
Buds, Bark and Stem
Not unlike the buds of beech, hornbeam buds are long and slender but close to the stem.
The bark is (silvery) grey, and may have vertical, ‘wriggly’ markings that vary in colour from silver to orange. At intervals, the bark may bear occasional wide but shallow fissures, which as the trunk ages may develop criss-crossing ridges.
Awaiting images – sorry