Blue Beech
Carpinus caroliniana

Location in Ontario

Blue Beech grows throughout the Deciduous Forest Region, on Manitoulin Island, along part of the Ottawa River, and along part of the St. Lawrence River. Blue Beech likes shade; it is an understorey tree that grows along streams and swamps.

The ridged bark of Blue Beech, Rondeau Provincial Park
Genus Carpinus
Leaves are simple with toothed edges, and alternate. Trees are small to medium sized, and  monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. The fruit is a nut in a leafy bract. The wood is extremely hard. The only species of Carpinus in Ontario is Blue Beech.

In the Landscape
Blue Beech is a very small tree growing to eight metres and living up to 150 years. It prefers a shady spot. The ridged, silvery bark makes it a unique specimen. The fruit makes an attractive showing as well as the fall colours.

University of Guelph Arboretum

Leaves are simple and oval shaped with a sharp tip and teeth along the edges. Leaves turn shades of red, orange, yellow and purple in the fall.  They have high concentrations of potassium, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.
The bark is blue-gray in colour, smooth and thin. Blue Beech is also known as muscle tree due to the muscle-like ridges on its trunk.
Blue Beech is monoecious with male (pollen) flowers and female (seed) flowers on the same tree. Pollen flowers are long drooping catkins that develop in summer and hang on the tree until the following spring. Seed flowers are found in clusters somewhat hdden by bracts. Flowers appear in May and are wind pollinated.
The fruit is a small nut that occurs with a leafy bract. Clusters of fruit resemble hops. Fruit appears in the early summer. Seeds are produced every 3 to 5 years, starting at 15 years of age.

The wood is hard and heavy. Since the tree is relatively small, the wood is not used for lumber. It is, however, used for tool handles.
Specific Gravity: 0.70
Janka Hardness: 1780 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

Autumn leaves of Blue Beech with a variety of colours

Link to United States Forest Service Silvics Manual for Blue Beech.