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HORNBEAM (Carpinus betulus)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 706 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HORNBEAM (Carpinus betulus), a member of a small genus of trees of the natural order Corylaceae. The Latin name Carpinus has been thought to be derived from the Celtic car, wood, and pin or pen, head, the wood of hornbeams having been used for yokes of cattle (see Loudon, Ency. of Pl. p. 792, new ed. 1855, and Littre, Diet. ii. 556). The common hornbeam, or yoke-elm, Carpinus betulus (Ger. Hornbaum and Hornbuche, Fr. charme), is indigenous in the temperate parts of western Asia and of Asia Minor, and in Europe, where it ranges as high as 55° and 56° N. lat. It is common in woods and hedges in parts of Wales and of the south of England. The trunk is usually flattened, and twisted as though composed of several stems united; the bark is smooth and light grey; and the leaves are in two rows, 2 to 3 in. long, elliptic-ovate, doubly toothed, pointed, numerously ribbed, hairy below and opaque, and not glossy as in the beech, have short stalks and when young are plaited. The stipules of the leaves act as protecting scale-leaves in the winter-bud and fall when the bud opens in spring. The flowers appear with the leaves in April and May. The male catkins are about 14 in. long, and have pale-yellow anthers, bearing tufts of hairs at the apex; the female attain a length in the fruiting stage of 2 to 4 in., with bracts 1 to r2 in. long. The green and angular fruit or " nut " ripens in October; it is about 4 in. in length, is in shape like a small chestnut, and is enclosed in leafy, 3-lobed bracts. The hornbeam thrives well on stiff, clayey, moist soils, into which its roots penetrate deeply; on chalk or gravel it does not flourish. Raised from seed it may become a tree 40 to as much as 70 ft. in height, greatly resembling the beech, except ' See the description of the instrument and of other attempts to obtain the same result by Gottfried Weber, " Wichtige Verbesserung des Horns " in Allg. musik. Ztg. (Leipzig, 1812), pp. 758, Ste.; also 1815, pp. 637 and 638 (the regent or keyed bugle). 2 See Allg. musik. Ztg., 1815, May, p. 309, the first announcement of the invention in a paragraph by Captain G. B. Bierey. Ibid., 1817, p. 814, by F. Schneider, and 'Dec. p. 558; 1818, 531. An announcement of the invention and of a patent granted For the same for ten years, in which Bliimel is for the first time associated with Stolzel as co-inventor. See also Caecilia (Mainz, 1835), Bd. xvii. pp. 73 seq., with illustrations, an excellent article by Gottfried Weber on the valve horn and valve trumpet. 'For a very complete exposition of the operation of valves in the horn, and of the mathematical proportions to be observed in construction, see Victor Mahillon's " Le Coe," also the article by Gottfried Weber in Caecilia (1835), to which reference was made above. A list of horn-players of note during the 18th century is given by C. Gottlieb Murr In Journal f. Kunstgeschichte (Nuremberg, 1776), vol. ii. p. 27. See also a good description of the style of playing of the virtuoso J. Nisle in 1767 in Schubart, Aesthetik d. Tonkunst, p. 161, and Leben it. Gesinnungen (1791), Bd. ii. p. 92; or in L. Schiedermair, " Die Bliitezeit d. Ottingen-Wallensteinschen Hofkapelle," Intern. Mus. Ges. Smbd. ix. (I), 1907, pp. 83-13o.in its rounder and closer head. It is, however, rarely grown as a timber-tree, its chief employment being for hedges. " In the single row," says Evelyn (Sylva, p. 29, 1664), " it makes the noblest and the stateliest hedges for long Walks in Gardens or Parks, of any Tree whatsoever whose leaves are deciduous." As it bears clipping well, it-was formerly much used in geometric gardening. The branches should not be lopped in spring, on account of their tendency to bleed at that season. The wood of the hornbeam is white and close-grained, and polishes ill, is of considerable tenacity and little flexibility, and is extremely tough and hard to work—whence, according to Gerard, the name of the tree. It has been found to lose about 8% of its weight by drying. As a fuel it is excellent; and its charcoal is much esteemed for making gunpowder. The inner part of the bark of the hornbeam is stated by Linnaeus to afford a yellow dye. In France the leaves serve as fodder. The tree is a favourite with hares and rabbits, and the seedlings are apt to be destroyed by mice. Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxvi. 26), who describes its wood as red and easily split, classes the hornbeam with maples. The American hornbeam, blue or water beech, is Car pinus americana (also known as C. caroliniana); the common hop-hornbeam, a native of the south of Europe, is a member of a closely allied genus, Ostrya vulgaris, the allied American species, O. virginiana, is also known as ironwood from its very hard, tight, close-grained wood.
End of Article: HORNBEAM (Carpinus betulus)
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