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Hornbeam - A Very Well Behaved Street Tree - tool handles, coppice rocket fuel...

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4110
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  58
The hornbeam is a super versatile hardwood. It produces some of the hardest wood commonly found in European gardens and woodlots.

Often hornbeams are used in landscaping to line the sides of driveways and in large landscape gardens they line walkways to produce tunnel like corridors. The uniform growth characteristics and symetry combined with small branch size makes hornbeam a popular choice for topiary. There is a word which currently illudes me that landscapers use for parallel rows of trees that frame a view. HELP

SOME POSITIVE CHARACTERISTICS AND USES

1. Street tree - Hornbeams send their branches up and out of the way. On the sidewalk, they don't branch out sideways to block the way. The small branches are easily pruned around wires and other obstacles. The very strong branches are rarely broken off in the wind and any branch that does fall, is not usually large enough to damage cars parked beneath. The roots go into the soil and don't crawl along the surface, heaving and splitting sidewalks and paving. Finally, these trees don't shed any awful gick. No gooey resin, no fluff, no big seed pods, no flaking bark etc. When the leaves do fall off, they are small enough that they make a nice even mulch. Overall, the best behaved street tree I can think of.

2. Tool Handles - Rather than forming a few large branches, most hornbeams grow many smaller ones. The hard wood makes excellent handles. A properly maintained coppice can produce handles of whatever size is desired. Google images has many examples of handles

3. Rocket fuel coppice - The hard, clean burning wood comes in diameters that can easily fit the RMH without splitting.

Photos. 1. These trees are easily pruned away from the windows and around wires. Although these are 40 ft trees, all of the branches hanging over the cars are 3 inches or less in diameter. It's one of the safest trees to park under.

2. All of the trees on this section of Government St. are in big planters. These trees with 8 inch trunks haven't split their pots apart as many trees would. They are easily shaped for a formal appearance.

3. Notice that even in this confined rooting area, these trees don't send out sidewalk splitting surface roots. This makes them suitable along driveways, sidewalks and patios where a maple or chestnut would do a lot of damage.





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QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4110
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  58
1. This is the crown of a very large specimen. When grown at a distance from buildings, crowns can be quite symetrical without pruning. This one is on the front lawn of a fancy hotel. A tour bus and gaggle of tourists prevented me from getting a distance shot.

2. The roots of a maple planted on a boulevard. The lumpy roots make mowing difficult. Surface roots cause millions each year in sidewalk repair. The sidewalks pose a tripping hazard until fixed.

3. Chestnuts are one of the most costly street trees. In Cook St. Village where they dominate, there is constant sidewalk damage and drainage issues. Surface roots sometimes rise so high above the sidewalk that drainage is prevented. This is most prevalent when the leaves and nuts clog every storm drain. Chestnuts grow fewer but much larger branches which are often shed during wind storms. Cars and buildings are regularly hit.




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Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4110
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  58
1. The same species of trees that go after paving will split foundation walls. This tree belongs to my friend Felix. It's one of the largest eucalyptus in the city. I haven't been able to convince him that this is a problem. The damage is done and the house is old.

2. Back to the mighty hornbeam. The largest of these branches is about as thick as a baseball bat. Even without being specifically managed for coppice, this tree has plenty of nice "handle" sticks. All would fit into a standard RMH.

3. When the leaves drop in the fall, the hidden windows get plenty of light.



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Kota Dubois


Joined: Oct 13, 2011
Posts: 171
    
    3
I'm not familiar with the european hornbeam, but the hop hornbeam (ironwood) is about 1% of the trees in my eastern cool temperate hardwood forest. It does have similar characteristics but growth is VERY SLOW. I don't think I've ever seen one with a trunk more than 4 inches in diameter. The wood is indeed excellent for tool handles, very strong, hence ironwood, very straight grained BUT it must be worked while green or else it is too HARD. By the way my grandfather used to make me whistles out of ironwood in the spring when the pithy core at the centre could be pushed out and the wood still whittled easily.


We cannot change the waves of expansion and contraction, as their scale is beyond human control, but we can learn to surf. Nicole Foss @ The Automatic Earth
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4110
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  58
Kota Dubois wrote:I'm not familiar with the european hornbeam, but the hop hornbeam (ironwood) is about 1% of the trees in my eastern cool temperate hardwood forest. It does have similar characteristics but growth is VERY SLOW. I don't think I've ever seen one with a trunk more than 4 inches in diameter. The wood is indeed excellent for tool handles, very strong, hence ironwood, very straight grained BUT it must be worked while green or else it is too HARD. By the way my grandfather used to make me whistles out of ironwood in the spring when the pithy core at the centre could be pushed out and the wood still whittled easily.


I think every region has some local hard wood which is dubbed iron wood. Shag bark hickory is North America's densest wood. In Southern Ontario it is called iron wood. Hornbeams are sometimes confused with hickory and hazel nut.

If you've been to a public garden with topiary that looks too tall to be boxwood, it was probably European or Asain hornbeam. There are many variants.

The growth habit of hornbeam is similar to that of Black Maple but with graeter symetry and more valuable wood. But the maple wins the tase test every time.
 
 
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