Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K. Koch
- Family: Birch (Betulaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: This species differs from similar-appearing species by its scaly bark and inflated fruits.
- Habitat: Moist or dry soils in woods, rocky slopes, hammocks, steep ravines.
- Habit: This understory tree up to 35 feet tail; trunk diameter up to 1 foot; crown usually rounded.
- Bark: Brown and scaly at maturity.
- Twigs: Slender, reddish brown, sometimes hairy.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, elliptic to ovate, pointed at the tip, rounded or tapering to the base,
finely doubly toothed, slightly hairy on the lower surface, up to 5 inches long.
- Flowers: Male and female borne separately but on the same tree; male flowers crowded into
drooping spikes through the winter; female flowers in small clusters.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 2-10.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior, subtended and later enclosed by a tubular bract.
- Fruits: Nutlets enclosed by an inflated bladder, crowded together in a cluster resembling hops.
- Notes: This species is often known as ironwood. The hard wood has been used for tool handles.
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