The common hornbeam or white hornbeam (Birch wood) is a common tree in Europe in woods between 500-1000 m above sea level. Many Italian pre-Alpine forests are dominated by hornbeam, oak and beech. The white hornbeam can live up to 150 years and has an average height of 15-20 m. It is a tree with a very robust and hard trunk to cut, so much so that the etymology of the name in English (hornbeam) means "hard tree”.
The leaves are serrated, light green in color and with clearly visible veins on the underside. In autumn the leaves turn golden yellow, they dry up and fall off only after a long period in winter. Male and female flowers are different and the seeds are propagated by the wind.
A common hornbeam tree might be confused with a black hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia). The two species are very similar to each other, and can be distinguished by the shape of the fruits.