How to Grow Hornbeam Maple Tree

Its Tall, Thin Shape Makes This a Good Hedge Alternative

Hornbeam maple tree with bright green leaves behind pathway in garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

The rare Hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium) can be a tricky tree to identify. They got their name because, while they're part of the maple family, their ovate-oblong leaves more closely resemble those of the Hornbeam. Unlike the Carpinus leaves, however, the Acer leaves ones are always paired.

A small, dense, elongated, ornamental deciduous tree, they're sometimes planted as an alternative to a hedge for screening purposes. They also work well in small lawns and as a border or wood edging.

As the multi-stemmed Hornbeam Maple matures, they do become broader, so keep this in mind when positioning your tree. Yellow-green flowers appear in May, but they're small and not of ornamental significance.

They can inhibit the growth of smaller plants, so aren't a good choice to sit in an area heavily populated by other species.

This tree looks good in the garden year-round. The drooping dark green leaves turn a deep shade of golden yellow in the fall.

Botanical Name Acer carpinifolium
Common Name Hornbeam Maple
Plant Type Deciduous tree
Mature Size 20-30 ft. tall
Sun Exposure Full Sun/Partial Shade
Soil Type Tolerates a variety, but should be well-drained
Soil pH Tolerates a variety
Bloom Time May
Flower Color Yellow/Green
Hardiness Zones 4 to 7, USDA
Native Area Japan

How to Grow Hornbeam Maple

These trees are native to Japan and are often found growing in moist, mountainous regions and temperate forests. In the right conditions, they're a fairly hardy tree that won't require too much maintenance.

They're known to be pretty intolerant of urban pollution, so they aren't the best choice for inner-city environments.

Hornbeam maple tree branch with bright green ovate-oblong leaves closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Hornbeam maple tree branch with bright green leaves and small yellow-green flowers hanging

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Hornbeam maple tree with sprawling upward branches with bright green leaves

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova


Although this tree can still do well in a partial shade position, best growth is seen if it benefits from full sun.


The Hornbeam Maple can cope in a variety of different soil types, as long as they're moist and well-drained. It can even handle heavy clay conditions.


Hornbeam Maples like a decent amount of water. Making sure you keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, will see best results. If your soil isn't great at retaining moisture, you can add some organic mulch around the base of the tree.

Temperature and Humidity

These trees are very cold hardy and can tolerate harsh winter conditions. Although they like sun, dry and overly hot temperatures will not work for the Hornbeam Maple.


Once established, your Hornbeam Maple should cope fine without any additional fertilization, or just once every few years. Young saplings will benefit from feeding with a fertilizer with a decent amount of phosphorous to encourage healthy root development.

Propagating Hornbeam Maple

It's possible to grow this tree from cuttings, although it can be tricky. Selecting cuttings from young shoots on a mature tree during the summer should see the best results.

Make sure your cutting has a few pairs of leaves, along with buds at the base. Take off the bark around the base and dip it in rooting hormone to give it the best chance of establishing.

New growth needs to be showing on the cutting before the temperatures drop. If not, it probably won't be able to survive the winter.


How often and how much you prune your Hornbeam Maply will depend on where it's positioned and whether it's being used as a hedging alternative. This slow-growing tree can be left to develop without any pruning (other than to remove dead branches), but the shape will be wider.

Growing From Seeds

Hornbeam maples are hermaphroditic, so each tree is both male and female—however, they don't self-pollinate. Therefore, to grow more trees, you need is two trees.

If you're harvesting fresh seeds in the fall, they stand the best chance of germinating if they're sown straight away in a cold frame before they have a chance to dry out. Germination will usually occur the following spring.

When working with dried seeds, it's a good idea to soak them for 24 hours and then stratifying them for a few months before sowing them.