Hornbeams are a fabulous tree for bonsai, a firm favourite with many and for good reason. You can see from the impressive image above that they can be of majestic proportions and this is one of our members trees which he has had for many years and developed it into this fine specimen.

Hornbeam (Carpinus) are from the family Corylaceae along with Corylus, Ostyra and Ostryopsis.  They are fast growing and easily grown trees with a very beautiful habit and form. They develop very graceful fine twigs, which makes them ideal as bonsai trees and you can achieve excellent ramification with them. They have hop like fruits and small inconspicuous flowers, catkins which are wind pollinated and a distinctive whitish bark which develops fluting with age. The buds are smaller than Beech but a similar cigar shape but tend to be more flat than rounded and green to red in colour. They are very hardy trees with a very dense wood properties and have a good longevity but winter protection is advised if kept as bonsai. Their foliage is vibrant and emerges in spring as a light green flush and then turns into a deep green.

The main species include the following but the list is fairly extensive with all the species found within Korea and China:

  • Carpinus betulus (Common Hornbeam is a native to southern England and with many associated cultivars)
  • Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam)
  • Carpinus cordata
  • Carpinus coreana
  • Carpinus fangiana
  • Carpinus henryana
  • Carpinus japonica
  • Carpinus laxiflora (One of the species most commonly used for Bonsai)
  • Carpinus orientalis
  • Carpinus x schuschansis (Naturally occurring hybrid of C. betulus and C. orientalis)
  • Carpinus tschonoskii (Originating from Japan and Korea)
  • Carpinus turczaninowii (One of the other species most commonly used for Bonsai originating from China)

Here is a selection of images of Carpinus laxiflora and Carpinus turczaninowii mainly in various stages of development and some are members trees while others were seen at various bonsai nurseries. Hornbeams are great in both winter image and full foliage and they look particularly spectacular in autumn colour too so a good all rounder if you are looking for your first bonsai tree.