This slow-growing tree is commonly called American hornbeam, or musclewood, due to muscle-like, vertical grooves present on its gray trunk. It is also known as ironwood, as its extremely hard wood was once used in earlier times for toolmaking. It can grow 10 to 35 feet tall.
This species of Carpinus blooms in February and features distinct, small, oval, nut-like fruit present in pairs at the base of three-lobed modified leaves. Its true leaves are pointed with double-toothed margins and turn a brilliant scarlet or orange color in Autumn.