American Hornbeam : Animal Use

Carpinus caroliniana catkin

The catkins and leaves of the Hornbeam, W.D. Brush, 24 October 2014

While the American hornbeam’s utility for humans is limited by the strength of its wood and its multi stemmed construction, the hornbeam plays an integral role in the lives of many animal species. The seeds, buds, and catkins are consumed by a variety of animals including the gray squirrel, turkey, fox, and a variety of songbirds. Additionally, the twigs and leaves of the hornbeam are staples in the diet of white tailed deer during their reproductive season and the bark is a major source of food for beaver. Additionally, the tree has been heavily used by beavers for the construction of their dams. Thus, the tree has heavily influenced human culture by both providing tools and helping to buoy beaver populations, creating an industry intrinsic to development of modern society in the New World
    In addition to providing food for many species, the American hornbeam provides a habitat for many species. It is used as a shelter for some types of birds including the Canada goose, American robin, and the sharp skinned hawk. However most interestingly, the hornbeam is used as a host plant for the Red-spotted Purple and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies. Both species of butterfly lay their eggs in the hornbeam and also feed off of the tree during early stages of life.