County Champion

Planted: 1915

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This tree is at the eastern end of the Malus Avenue, near the Burnmill road fence.

Distribution:South eastern France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, east to Caucasus, west Asia. Low forests in mountains. Planted in large gardens.
Planting Date:Acquisition date 1915 from St. Barbe Baker nursery, West End, Southampton. Originally planted in the Chinese section in 1916 then moved in February 1918 to its present location. It would have been at the far end of the tennis court when viewed from Mr Hammond’s house.
Growth Habit:Widely spreading with rounded head.
Bark:Brown-grey cracking into square, ultimately shaggy, plates. The lower trunk profile has the appearance of a Henry Moore sculpture and the lower branches have a suggestion of twisting ripples.
Leaf:Similar to common Hornbeam but with 12 to 15 pairs of veins, ovate, to 10 cm long by 5 cm across, pointed and double toothed.
Flowers:Male catkins, up to 7.5 cm, yellow and drooping, are borne on the same tree as the smaller, green females, in spring.
Fruit:Seeds are sealed in fragile bladders arranged in hop-like clusters. Pale translucent green ripens to dry papery brown by October.  Seed cases stay on the tree sometimes through the winter.
Toxicity:Not known
Tree size in April 2023:Height: 18 m x Girth: 343 cm  (at 0.7 m)  (Potential height 24 m)
Uses:The wood being very hard and heavy has been used mainly for fuel, charcoal, tool handles and fence-posts.
Plant Hunter:Widely known across Europe before botanist Carl Linnaeus described it in the 18th century.
Introduction Date: circa 1724
Anecdotes and Comments:There is an American Hop hornbeam, Ostrya virginiana, that displays similar writhing growth to trunk and larger branches. It is known as Ironwood and was detailed in eastern USA in 1692.   It would be interesting to know if Mr Hammond’s tree has a trace of that DNA.  The indigenous Americans used it to treat toothache, muscle soreness, respiratory and kidney issues.
Rated County Champion in April 2023 by The Tree Register on account of its height and girth.