Musclewood Carpinus caroliniana
Family: Betulaceae (Birch)
Branching: Alternate
Other names: Blue-beech, Ironwood

This small tree is very distinctive when mature.  It's name comes from the muscle-like ridges in the bark.  Despite the wavy ridges, its bark remains smooth even when mature, giving rise to its other common name Blue-beech.  When mature, there is little else it can be mistaken for, but when young, it can resemble Ironwood very closely.  Musclewood twigs tend to be darker and buds are pressed more closely to the twig.  

The distinctive wavy ridges of Musclewood

Another view of the bark

Winter twig of Musclewood

Another view of the twig.

Lateral bud

Musclewood winter twig, showing an enlarged flower bud 

Ironwood (left) and Musclewood (right) twigs.  Musclewood tends to be more reddish,
and its buds don't point away from the twig as much.  Also, the buds usually have a few more
scales and more obvious whitish margins.  But these characteristics are variable.

Musclewood fruit (slightly dilapidated)

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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