Our September Plant of the Month is American Hop Hornbeam Ostrya virginiana.
This tree is native to Virginia and also known as Eastern Hop hornbeam, Ironwood, and Leverwood.
This low maintenance deciduous tree isn’t fussy so it doesn’t require a lot of attention. We’re talking drought-tolerant (once established), able to grow in clay soils, and even somewhat resistant to deer.
Interestingly, it puts off both male and female catkins. The male catkins are about an inch long and are visible in groups of threes through the winter. The female catkins are visible in the spring before going to seed and in clusters that look similar to hop plants (hence the ‘Hop’ in the name!) These fruits provide food for small mammals and song birds, and the trees play host to butterflies and invertebrates.
Want to see it in person? The Hop Hornbeam can be found towards the end of the linear stretch of the Low Line heading away from Great Shiplock Park.