This low, spreading tree is producing delicate male catkins in the Autumn Garden.
A native of eastern North America Ostyra virginiana (eastern hop hornbeam, or ironwood) is a resilient understorey tree which grows on forest slopes and rocky ridges. It is a slow-growing species which produces a rounded crown up to 15 m in height and spread, and it can live for up to 300 years. The bark will develop scaly ridges at an early stage, and the twigs are delicate and wiry in appearance. Reddish-brown, scaly male catkins 2-5 cm in length are produced in winter before the green, female catkins to 7 cm in length, which are followed by papery, hop-like clusters of fruit. As the common name ‘ironwood’ suggests the wood is particularly hard and strong.