Hornbeams are relatively small hardwoodtrees in the genusCarpinus (Cár-pi-nus). Though some botanists grouped them with the hazels (Corylus) and hop-hornbeams (Ostrya) in a segregate family, Corylaceae, modern botanists place the hornbeams in the birch subfamily Coryloideae. The 30–40 species occur across much of the north temperate regions, with the greatest number of species in east Asia, particularly China. Only two species occur in Europe, and only one in eastern North America.
Carpinus betulus (European or common hornbeam) is a hornbeam native to Western Asia and central, eastern, and southern Europe, including southern England. It requires a warm climate for good growth, and occurs only at elevations up to 600 metres (1,969 ft). It grows in mixed stands with oak, and in some areas beech, and is also a common tree in scree forests.