Blue Beech - Carpinus caroliniana

Blue Beech, also commonly known as American Hornbeam, is a very small tree, but the extremely dense and hardy wood is so strong and difficult to crack that early pioneers used it to make bowls and plates.  The Blue Beech does well in shady, moist areas, and can make up a large part of the understory in some forests, partially due to the unpalatable taste of its twigs and branches – most mammals avoid eating it! However, many squirrels and birds will eat the flowers and seeds.

Blue Beech Bark
The mature Blue Beech has smooth, hard bark that has a strongly ridged, sinewy appearance, resembling flexed muscle. In some areas of North America, it is known as Musclewood or Muscle-beech for this reason.

Blue Beech Tree Fruits
Blue Beech’s papery fruit are found in distinct 3-lobed pale yellow clusters of samaras.

Blue Beech Tree
The Blue Beech is a small tree with angular branches and slender twigs, which is branching, low and spreading. This tree is common in the understory of rich, moist soils along streams or in swamps.

Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Blue Beech. 1995-1999.
Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Blue Beech. 1995-1999.

Return to tree listing page


Farrar, J.L.. 1995. Trees in Canada. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd. Toronto. ON. 504 pp.  

Kershaw, L. 2001. Trees in Ontario: Including tall shrubs. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. AB. 240 pp

Muma, W. 2011. Ontario Trees and Shrubs. [Online] Available:

OMNR, 2011. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [Online] Available:

OMNR, 2008. Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk.