Carpinus caroliniana (Ironwood) - Qt Super Plugs


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A common understory tree of rich floodplain forests,  Ironwood (Carpinus caroliniana) is a top-rate tree for the native woodland garden.  It is a wide-rainging tree, growing from Minnesota to Quebec,south to Texas and Florida, and is common throughout its range wherever moist woodlands can be found.

Ironwood grows 20 to 30 feet tall, with similar spread if the canopy cover allows.  The trees are distinguished by their steel gray, sinewy trunks, and their birch-like leaves with papery seed clusters.  They are typically found in rich woodlands, especially beech-sugar maple forests here in Indiana.  There are some particularly nice specimens along Sugar Creek in Turkey Run State Park, Parke County Indiana - These grow out over the creek, lending a lush canopied aesthetic to the landscape.


Ironwood never grows to be overly large, so the wood is never produced in high enough quantities to be widely useful.  However, it is one of our densest native hardwoods, so it is sometimes used for dowel pins, tool handles and mallets.  It is a good understory tree to include in a woodland landscape, and in conservation projects, since it offers the mid-canopy layer used by many woodland songbirds for nesting sites.

Ironwood is a good larval host plant, offering good protein and fat for songbirds' spring nesting needs.  The small nutlets are a good autumn food source for songbirds and small mammals.  Deer and rabbits will browse the seedlings, so provide some protection for the establishment period.

How to Grow Ironwood

Ironwood is very easy to grow, as long as it is given moist soil and a sheltered location.  Ironwood doesn't do well in dry, windswept landscapes, instead preferring a closed canopy forest or a clearing surrounded by forest.  It isn't particular as to soil type and PH, tolerating moderately acidic soils to moderately alkaline soils.

We currently provide Ironwood in our 1-Quart SuperPlugs, a fabric container that produces well-developed root systems for quick etablishment.  SuperPlugs minimize transplant shock, allowing trees to function in the landscape much more quickly than stock grown in conventional plastic containers.

Common Name: Ironwood
Botanical Name: Carpinus caroliniana


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    Carpinus caroliniana (Ironwood

    Posted by Jeff Forry on Sep 17th 2019

    Tree arrived with three others that were delivered in fine condition. However this tree was dried out both the soil and the leaves. Much of the soil was out of the bag and into the shipping box. I’m concerned it will not recover. I sent an email to the sales email address waiting on a response.