When Is A Hornbeam Not A Hornbeam

hop hornbeam fruiting bodies

Hornbeam are in the Carpinus genus in the birch family. But then there are other ‘hornbeams’ that are not hornbeams at all but simply have aspects of their growth that looks like hornbeams.

For example, the Hop hornbeam, which is Ostrya carpinifolia, is called that because the leaves look like Hornbeam leaves. The clusters of seeds hang in little pouches that are squashy and soft. Just press ever so gently and feel the way they are like little inflated balloons. They look like hops, hence the name.

I photographed this seed cluster hanging on the tree, on 14 June this year, so my iPhone tells me.

Then a couple of days ago I passed the tree and found a cluster of seeds on the ground, still intact. I brought the cluster home and photographed it with a little Canon compact camera.

Dried hop hornbeam fruiting bodies

Talking About ‘Real’ Hornbeams

We have hornbeams – Carpinus betulus – here in the UK, There’s an American ‘version’ Carpinus Caroliniana, and about thirty others from all around the globe in the Northern Hemisphere.

Hornbeam wood is very hard. The trunks even look hard. They are almost sinewy, with bark tight against the tree.

When I was young and lived in the countryside without much money, I saved on firewood by buying offcuts about four feet long and about ten inches across – the outer part of the trunks of hornbeams, with the bark still on.

I met my match with them. It was impossible to crack them with an axe. The axe just bounced off them and I had to saw them into short lengths..


The first photo is a crop from the second photo (taken with a Fuji X-E3 with 27mm f2.8 lens). The dragonfly was sitting on the wooden board that holds the antibacterial gel to use in the cafe that is just to the right of the photo. I was actually looking at another dragonfly sitting on the bent head of a flower stem. Then I turned and this little guy was so close that I almost overlooked him.

He flew up and back down to his spot again, just like the one on the flower stem had done, and I started photographing him.

Then a young woman came up to sptritz her hands with the gel and she didn’t see the dragonfly until it took off. She apologised and I said no need, and then the little guy flew back and settled down. This time I got out my phone and took a photo and then a video.

iPhone Photo

And finally to the point of this post, which is the head and neck of the dragonfly. First, the neck is very thin. Compared to the ball of the head it is very thin, much more so that our necks compared to our heads.

And then there is the way the head moves, in little jerks this way and that. It is definitely not human. I know that sounds crazy because dragonflies are not human, but what I mean is that the movement is more like a zombie in an apocalypse film. See if you can see it in the video.

iPhone Video

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