Hornbeam, Carpinus

tree of the family Betulaceae (Alder, Birch, Hornbeam)

Etymology: the Latin name "Carpinus", is formed of Celtic words "karr ", "wood", and "penne", "head".
Origin: Southern Europe, Middle East. The Hornbeam covers 1,5 % French forests (see the distribution map of the French forest).
Species: American and Japanese.
Habitat: the Hornbeam is a forest tree, frequent in undergrowth sub-timber, because it accepts half shade. It is notably placed side by side the oak.
Lifespan: 150 years.
Height: 15-20 m. Slow growth.
Fluted, smooth characteristic bark, greenish grey. Furrows, in diagonal, form as it matures.
Deciduous foliage. Leaves alternate (10 cm), distichous, twice toothed, beardless, marked veins.
Flowers: catkins. Contrary to birches and to alders, catkins appear in winter and hatch in spring.
Risk of allergenic pollen : medium.
Fruit: ribbed akene of 0,6 cm, supported by a big foliaceous bract generally in three lobes, of 3-4 cm long.
Uses: due to the slow growth of hornbeam, the tree-rings are compact and difficult to split the wood: we make yokes, benches, butchers' blocks, wheel hubs, poles mine poles, railway sleepers, pulp and paper, chipboard, tool handles, umbrella handles, bowling pins, balls, mallets, shoe forms, shuttles, spoons, toys, precision instruments (rules and squares), mechanical parts of pianos.
Its wood is also valued for firewood and for charcoal production.
Its dense foliage and marcescent (which does not fall in autumn) and its branches that grow back easily after pruning, make the charm a good tree for hedge.
Medicinal use: astringent plant (leaves, buds).
Dyeing: getting yellow tones (bark).
Feed: fodder (leaves).
In Celtic astrology, Hornbeam characterises the persons of " good taste ".

At the time of the charcoal

Before the arrival of fossil fuels (coal and oil), charcoal was the only fuel available for the development of the industry. Hornbeal produced, with beech and oak, one of the best charcoal. On a better calorific value at equal volume, as firewood, it is easier to transport and store. Its manufacturing process called carbonization occurs at a temperature between 300 and 400 ° C.
The production of charcoal took place during the fall with felled trees and cut the previous winter. This delay was necessary to obtain a dry wood to make a good clean coal, but not too dry so it does not burn completely. Wood was used for small diameter, dismissed as firewood, or wood split so that the carbonization is carried out completely.
The coal master, or trainer, delimited a flat, open space and planted a flagpole at its center that would serve to draw the furnace and to form the chimney. It struck a channel at ground level that allowed by the stuffing of dry kindling very easy to ignite, set fire to the center of the mound.


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