Carpinus caroliniana, the American hornbeam, is a small hardwood tree in the genus Carpinus. American hornbeam is also known as blue-beech, and musclewood. It is native to eastern North America, from Minnesota and southern Ontario east to Maine, and south to eastern Texas and northern Florida. It also grows in Canada (southwest Quebec and southeast Ontario).
Carpinus caroliniana, commonly called American hornbeam, is a slow-growing, deciduous, small to medium-sized understory tree with an attractive globular form. It is native to Missouri where it is typically found in rich moist woods, valleys, ravine bottoms and rocky slopes along streams throughout the eastern and Ozark regions of the state (Steyermark). Typically grows 20-35' tall. The smooth, gray trunk and larger branches of a mature tree exhibit a distinctive muscle-like fluting that has given rise to another common name of musclewood for this tree. Flowers appear in spring in separate male and female catkins, with the female catkins giving way to distinctive clusters of winged nutlets. Serrated, elliptic-oval, dark green leaves often produce respectable shades of yellow, orange and red in fall. The extremely hard wood of this tree will, as the common name suggests, take a horn-like polish and was once used by early Americans to make bowls, tool handles and ox yokes. Commercial use of hornbeam wood is not practicable, however, due to the limited amount of wood that can be harvested per tree.
Genus name comes from the classical Latin name.
Specific epithet means of North or South Carolina.