The common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is a common tree in Europe in the woods between 500-1000 m asl. Many Italian pre-alpine forests are dominated by hornbeam, oak and beech. It is also present in the South-East of England. The 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 name’s etymology means “hard tree”.
The leaves are double-toothed, light green in colour and with visible veins on the underside. In autumn, the leaves turn golden yellow, dry out and fall off only after a long period in winter. The male and female flowers are different, and the seeds are spread by the wind.
A common hornbeam tree could be confused with a European hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia). The two species are very similar to each other and are distinguished by the shape of the fruit.