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Life History and Disturbance Response of Ostrya virginiana (eastern hophornbeam, ironwood)
Family: Betulaceae
Guild: persistent, slow-growing understory tolerant
Functional Lifeform: small to medium-size deciduous tree
Ecological Role: common on mesic and dry-mesic sites, but also occurs along well-drained stream bottoms; minor subcanopy component of mixed oak and northern hardwood forests
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): 100/150
Shade Tolerance: very tolerant
Height, m: 9-16
Canopy Tree: no
Pollination Agent: wind
Seeding, yrs (begins/optimal/declines): 25/30/100
Mast Frequency, yrs: 2
New Cohorts Source: seeds or sprouts
Flowering Dates: late spring
Flowers/Cones Damaged by Frost: no
Seedfall Begins: early fall
Seed Banking: 1 yr +
Cold Stratification Required: yes
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent: nut in saclike bract/ to 100 m/ wind, birds
Season of Germination: spring
Seedling Rooting System: variable
Sprouting: stump sprouts common
Establishment Seedbed Preferences:
Substrate: variable
Light: overstory shade
Moisture: moist required
Temperature: neutral
Disturbance response:
Fire: Populations of eastern hophornbeam tolerate occasional, but not frequent fire. Eastern hophornbeam is susceptible to topkill from fire, but readily sprouts from adventitious buds in the root collar or from root suckers. Seedling establishment may occur from seeds of surviving trees onsite or from offsite seeds carried by wind or birds. The number of stems may increase following a single fire, but repeated prescribed fire is useful in controlling hophornbeam where is it undesirable.
Weather: Eastern hophornbeam is intolerant of flooding. It is relatively resistant to cold temperatures and to damage from wind, snow, and ice.
Air pollution: Eastern Hophornbeam is sensitive to sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides, as well as chlorine and fluorine.