Hornbeam roots

Hornbeam roots

Question: hornbeam roots

Hello, Please, I would like to know if the roots of the hornbeam plant extend in width (breaking, over time, the sidewalk that is next to me) or tend to lengthen in depth.I have heard conflicting opinions and I cannot decide whether to plant a hornbeam or other plants. thank you.

Hornbeam roots: Answer: hornbeam roots

Hello Gemma and welcome to the expert section of our website. The Carpino is a typical plant of the flat and piedmont areas of central-northern Italy and is present with two well-known species; the black hornbeam and the white hornbeam. The black hornbeam is more pioneer than the white hornbeam and often colonizes rocky or stony areas on the driest slopes of the pre-alpine hills and the Apennine mountains.

Regarding your problem with the roots of the Hornbeam we do not recommend planting this plant if you are afraid that its roots could ruin the asphalt and the pavement. The root system of this plant is in fact mainly superficial and most of the roots extend in the area adjacent to the trunk in the first 100 cm of the soil. For this reason, planting a hornbeam in such an area is not recommended as it could create problems for the surrounding infrastructure.

  • Hornbeam

    The word Carpino indicates the genus Carpinus of the Betullaceae family, which includes about twenty species widespread in the temperate and temperate-warm regions of Europe, Asia and ...

Carpinus (Hornbeam)


If it grows in the shade of other trees, the hornbeam it has an attractive open shape but takes a tight posture in sunlight and follows a concentrated growth pattern.
It is often about small trees which in the landscape and domestic context have various purposes.

The fruits of hornbeam swing from the branches until autumn and with the arrival of the cold season the tree is colored with shades ranging from yellow to orange to red.
Provides shade for both humans and wildlife, birds and small mammals find shelter and nesting sites in the branches and feed on fruit at various degrees of ripeness throughout the year.

The tree attracts songbirds and large diurnal butterflies such as papilio machaon and parnassiuus apollo.
Rabbits, squirrels and deer feed on leaves and twigs. Children also love hornbeams, which have strong low-growing branches, perfect for climbing.

Characteristics of the Hornbeam - Carpinus betulus

The Carpino, scientific name Carpinus betulus, is a tree of the family of Betulaceae native to America, Asia and widespread especially in Western Europe. In Italy, the Carpino is found as a spontaneous tree up to about 900 meters above sea level in fresh and humid woods (mesophilic) also mixed with oaks and beeches.

The Hornbeam, even if it is not a very long-lived tree, in a short time can even exceed 20 meters in height, and is equipped with a robust root system of the bundled type that anchors it firmly to the ground. The trunk and branches are covered with a light gray bark

The leaves, ovate and oblong, have particularly pronounced ribs with serrated margins, the upper page is dark green and the lower one is light green.

Even the Hornbeam like many other deciduous trees makes its contribution to the spectacular autumn foliage with the red-orange color that its leaves take on before the fall. In general, the leaves of the Hornbeam start on the lower branches while the foliage remains compact and green.

THE flowers, gathered in particular pendulous inflorescences, are of two types: the males are elongated and pendulous yellowish catkins, while the female ones, from erect also become pendulous, are white in color and are distinguished from the male ones because they are arranged in pairs.

THE fruits they appear as small hazelnuts, wrapped in large trilobate leaf bracts. THE fruits they are each carried on a wing formed by three lobes and are shown hanging from the branches in groups that make the tree very decorative and have a beautiful aesthetic impact during the autumn.

Flowering of the Hornbeam: this beautiful ornamental tree blooms in late spring between April and May. These have male and female sex and are arranged in hanging inflorescences, whose petals are of a yellowish-white color. The male flowers are recognized for the greatest extent, comprising from 6 to 12 stamens on a single bract. The female ones are in pairs on a bract and with the fruit they form a triloba bract, typical of the species.

Hornbeam roots - garden

The caper is a generous plant. It gives us beautiful flowers with large white petals and violet stamens which are very visible due to the accentuated color contrast, they offer buds and edible fruits, roots with medicinal virtues, but more than anything else the peaceful beauty that a caper plant gives to it is priceless. a wall, it feels like home, family, past time. And let's not worry about the roots, however well developed, they can peel the wall of the house, but never bring it to collapse.

Botanical description

The caper, Capparis spinosa, family Capparidaceae, is a suffrutice with a long root and many stems up to 80 cm long. of various bearing. The stems, simple or branched, all originate from the root collar. The leaves, green on the upper side and glaucous on the lower side, are alternate and rounded, briefly petiolate and fleshy in consistency.

The flowers have four rounded petals and four round sepals, are axillary and long petiolate. Ephemeral, they open in the evening and begin to wither the next morning, from the month of May until the end of summer.

The fruits are dark green berries and oblong shape. When ripe, they open showing a large number of almost black seeds.

Where is it

Typically Mediterranean plant, the caper is able to adapt even in small niche areas in the Po Valley or in places that are able to guarantee warm and sunny conditions. It is widespread in the south, frequent in the center, its presence diminishes as you go up north.

In nature we can find it on the cliffs, in old dry stone walls where it sinks its roots between stone and stone, in basically arid and rocky soils.

Grow capers inside a brick

An original method to have caper plants in the garden is the one recommended by Francesco Corbetta in his "Spontaneous edible plants". We take a hollow brick, close the holes on one side with concrete, turn it over and fill the holes with rubble and crushed brick fragments. In autumn we sprinkle the brick with seeds and from spring we start watering very regularly. To maintain a constant base level of humidity, place the brick inside a large saucer. In autumn, when the rains begin, we remove the saucer to avoid stagnation. In the following spring, when the positive result is achieved, we place the brick in a dry stone wall in the garden well exposed to the sun.

In nurseries today it is possible to buy potted caper plants from the end of April. The choice of the place of planting is fundamental for their survival, not always guaranteed.

If we want to regulate the excessive development of the plants, we cut the branches at the end of winter to a length of about 20 centimeters.

What and when to collect

The buds of the caper must be collected in a gradual manner to follow their progressive enlargement. Every two or three days we will visit the plants without ever making a total harvest, it is better to let a part of the buds open and become fruit.

The roots, used as a domestic herbal medicine with diuretic and purifying properties, are harvested in autumn.

Fruits before full ripeness when they are already swelling, but they are tender and fleshy with the seeds still immature, tender and pale.

Conservation of capers

We collect the buds of the capers and clean them with a slightly damp cloth. Roll them out and let them dry in the air, never in the sun, in the evening put them in previously salted white vinegar or in brine. We insert a spacer between the lid and the buds so that all remain covered by the liquid. During the “seasoning” the buds that are almost neutral in flavor when harvested become pleasantly acidic.

To keep them in salt, let them soak in water for a whole day, changing it often, then for two days in a jar half filled with white wine vinegar, shaking them often, finally, after letting them drain and dry for a whole night. , we will cover them with salt.

You don't have a garden, but do you have a terrace or a balcony? With evergreen shrubs like the boxwood or Japanese holly in a beautiful flowerpot on the balcony or terrace you can also enjoy a year-round green view.

When making your green base, try to work on height differences as well. You can choose tall shrubs or conifers, but you can also alternate the height of the plants at the edges of the garden. If the plants are all the same height, it tends to get boring. Make a list of your favorite plants and rank them by growth height. Shrubs (except rhododendron) can also be pruned to the desired height. Garden plants largely determine the atmosphere of the garden itself. It is therefore advisable to choose trees, hedges and shrubs that suit the style, shape and color of your garden.

How to grow garden trees

You first need to know what the main elements that affect the life of a tree.
Here is a short list:

  • Type of terrain
  • Solar exposure
  • Tillage of the land
  • Sowing
  • Cuttings
  • Pruning
  • Pesticides and fungicides
  • Fertilization
  • Watering
  • Mulch

Hornbeam roots - garden

Carpaneto Piacentino, Carpegna, Carpendio, Carpeneto, Carpi, Carpignano, Carpineti, Carpineto (della Nora, Romano, Sinello), Carpino, Carpinone

They say about him
The knocks and hornbeams were mixed, the evergreen leaves mingled with the dying ones, the darker ones with the paler ones, in a contrast of vigor and languor, in an ambiguity that increased bewilderment ... (D'Annunzio)

Beyond the wall / the wreaths / of hornbeams that hint / the frothy border of the billows unfold, aerine. (Montale)

Climatic requirements and phytocoenosis
Our hornbeam is a wide-ranging species in Italy is very common in the north and is a typical inhabitant of mid-mountain areas: it grows luxuriantly at an altitude corresponding to that of chestnut and beech woods, but can settle in hilly areas or even in the flat ones. It hardly forms pure woods and is often associated with hazel, ash, turkey oak and beech. Equipped with wide adaptability, it grows well both in cold climates and in temperate-warm climates and is classified as a typical inhabitant of mesophilic and cool climates. Sciaphilous species, being a dominant and non-dominant plant, it adapts to positions of half shade but also to the sun. It resists intense cold, but fears prolonged drought. It prefers loose, fresh and deep soils with a neutral to medium acid pH, while also adapting quite well to calcareous soils. It has land improvement capabilities.
In some Apennine woods of Central Italy, near the impluvium gullies, the cool and humid climate conditions allow the development of the association of hazelnut (Corylus avellana) and hornbeam which can appear with a characteristic "gallery" appearance and host in the herbaceous layer numerous species typical of the beech forest such as the odorous starlet (Galium odoratum), the snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), the squill (Scilla bifolia), the gagea (Gagea lutea) and the dentaria (Cardamine bulbifera).

It is a very robust and tolerant plant against many adversities, even the pollution of cities, so much so that it can be counted among the species most adaptable to the terrible and selective urban ecosystem. The storage capacity of dry leaves on the branches throughout the winter is peculiar, until the buds open in spring.
It looks like a tree with an average height of 10-12 meters, but which could also reach 20-25 in favorable environmental conditions and if the man allowed it after three years from birth it reaches 120 cm, while after six it reaches 150 - 250 cm, therefore its growth is medium-slow. Its posture is erect with globoidal, regular and wide foliage, the primary branches have an ascending trend, while the secondary ones are pendulous. It has a gray-gray bark, smooth when young but which in older individuals is grooved becoming similar to that of the oak. The root system is generally superficial.
The buds are elongated ovate, with brown pubescent pearls close to the branch. The leaves are deciduous, 5-11 cm long, simple, alternate, with short petiole and rounded base, doubly toothed at the edges and sharp at the apex, dark green above and lighter below also due to the presence of a fine thickened down at the ribs.

The flowers are not very showy, monoecious and gathered in catkins: the male ones are pendulous and carried in groups of 2 or 3, the female ones are first erect then pendulous. Male inflorescences are no more than 4 cm long and formed by reddish scales. The female inflorescences are shorter and formed by bracts that are inserted on the axis of the inflorescence in groups of three. If not pruned, in mid-spring it produces a characteristic infructescence (Photo 6) that closely resembles that of hops: the seed is a smooth and shiny achene, protected by a membranous bract. Two of the bracts that make up the female flower remain to protect the fruit, which is surrounded by a leafy lamina divided into three lobes, which favors the dissemination by the wind.

Variety assortment
Carpinus betulus in its original, unmodified form can be purchased with great ease and excellent prices at all Italian nurseries. It is called in the common language "seed hornbeam" to distinguish it from its cultivars, reproduced by grafting. Thanks to its high tolerance to pruning, it is the plant par excellence for the formation of shaped hedges, monospecific groups or dense “neutral” green backdrops useful for enhancing architecturally shaped shrubs. If kept as a tree, that is, with a single stem, it remains of medium height, as we have said, it is very adaptable and very rustic, since while it prefers fresh soils it also grows in dry ones. The original species is used as rootstock of the "Pyramidalis" cultivar, called pyramidal hornbeam, this is compact in shape, columnar when young and pyramidal when adult, unlike the species it loses its dry leaves in winter, it has smaller leaves and also 'it does not require pruning to remain compact. For the latter reason, it is an extraordinary plant for city street trees, also retaining all the disease and smog tolerance characteristics of the hornbeam. In all probability. From next spring, a cultivar called "Albert Bekman" will be present in small quantities on the Italian market, of which we do not guarantee the exact spelling of the name, which preserves the characteristics of the "Pyramidalis" and differs from this only for the maintenance of the leaf dry in the winter, as does the original species. The name "Pyramidalis" appears in all Italian nursery catalogs, but it is not present in foreign catalogs and is not admitted in botanical dictionaries where it is mentioned, instead, with the term "Fastigiata".
Another botanical mystery is the "Monumentalis" form, low tree, in the shape of a perfect flame, which does not need even the smallest scissor stroke to remain collected, with small leaves and shortened internodes, truly exceptional whenever it is available little space we have seen some rare decades-old specimens in a nursery in Northern Italy, in which the name "Monumentalis" was probably born, of a truly extraordinary beauty, so much so that we claim that this cultivar has all the qualities to become one of the most used in small city gardens or in the narrowest corners. The mystery mentioned is that it does not appear in the botanical dictionaries where, however, the cultivar "Columnaris" is present, from whose name we should assume, however, a form of the adult plant different from the so-called "Monumentalis" it would be useful for a good botanist deepened the subject to resolve the doubts.
Finally, another cultivar of Carpinus betulus is the "Purpurea", which differs from the original species due to the reddish color assumed by the young vegetation in spring.
Other little known and rare species in Italy are ascribed to the genus Carpinus. Among these we mention the Carpinus orientalis, a small tree or large shrub up to 15 meters high, which differs from C. betulus for the smaller leaves. Typical of south-eastern Europe, it is a species that lives on dry, calcareous soils at low altitudes. It adapts better than the hornbeam in degraded, poor, acidic or calcareous soils and is more resistant to damage from fire. And again there are species native to Asia (C. polyneura, C. laxiflora, C. cordata, C. japonica) and America (C. caroliniana) of which very little is known about their ability to adapt to our climates.

A hedge species par excellence, the hornbeam is also recommended for the formation of monospecific groups of 3 or 5 specimens or multispecific groves mixed with taller and more long-lived species, such as oaks, beeches, alders and elms. It is recommended for windbreak curtains and, as already mentioned, for topiate hedges and urban trees, especially in the C. b cultivar. pyramidalis if impaled at a height of 220 - 240 cm from the ground. And we cannot refrain from once again advocating the planting of the so-called “Monumentalis”, even as a single specimen in a small garden.
The leaves and twigs give good fodder for farm animals, so much so that in the countryside, where it was bred for the production of young branches used for various uses, it was pruned to a height greater than 200 cm, in order to become unreachable for the animals.
The wood is light, with clearly visible pith rays, homogeneous, hard and heavy so that, when steel was not yet available at affordable costs, it was used to make spokes for wheels, gears or tools, such as butcher blocks, mallets and bowls is also an excellent fuel used to obtain coal. The bark can be used to dye wool yellow also in herbal medicine finds its use for astringent abilities.

Video: Hornbeam - trunk u0026 roots - August 2018