Ostrya virginiana is a tree to 20 m tall; bark brown, shaggy.
Leaves alternate, elm-like, veins pinnate, deeply impressed, margin sharply toothed.
Flowers monoecious, male in catkins, female in small clusters April-May, wind pollinated.
Fruit is a nutlet, about 0.5 cm, surrounded by bracts, enclosed in an inflated sac about 2 cm, Sept., dispersed by wind through fall and winter. Seeds eaten by birds and small mammals. Seeds must overwinter to germinate, able to reproduce under closed canopy or old fields.
Wetland status: FACU-.
Frequency in New York City: Infrequent.
Habitat: Undisturbed forests. Grows well on limestone derived soils relatively high in calcium, magnesium, pH, silt and clay (Balter and Loeb 1983).Tolerates soil pH 4.2-8. Very shade tolerant, index 8-10. Moderately tolerant of drought. Intolerant of flooding, soil compaction, salt, sensitive to air pollution (Hightshoe 1988; USDA, NRCS 2010).
Notes: Stump sprouts when cut, resprouts after light fire. Attacked by a few fungi, such as the white rot Phellinus igniarius (Sinclair et al. 1987; Burns and Honkala 1990).