Beech vs. Hornbeam

The differences between two of the most popular hedging plants –  Beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

These two plant species are very similar but there are some notable differences

  • Beech leaves are glossier and thinner – Hornbeam are a duller green, with deep veins and a slightly serrated edge – I always think they look like little concertinas when they first appear in the spring
  • Both keep their leaves in winter but Beech does it better
  • Beech winter leaves are a brighter copper colour whereas Hornbeam are greyish brown
  • Beech doesn’t like to be in damp soil – choose Hornbeam for a moist but not waterlogged site
  • Both are native
  • Both are available as bare root, pot grown, cell grown and also instant hedging

For preference I would always go for Beech hedging plants, but Hornbeam has many qualities which make it a better choice for many situations.