The beautiful smooth muscle-like bark and unique clusters of nutlets subtended by a 3-parted leafy bract will serve as the best identification features for American hornbeam.
NOTE: The bark image in the photo is of a tree at The Morton Arboretum labeled Carpinus caroliniana var. virginiana but accurately illustrates the bark features of straight species Carpinus caroliniana.
Karren Wcisel, TreeTopics.com
Image Creation Date
Betulaceae, Carpinus caroliniana, American hornbeam, blue beech, musclewood, ironwood, tree, deciduous