This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The habitat of this plant is woods and heaths. The Birch has the tree habit. The bark is silvery white, flaky. The branches are erect, or drooping. The leaves are smooth, rhomboid, triangular, toothed, leathery, resinous, blunt below. The leaf-stalks are slender. The young shoots have resinous tubercles. The stipules are egg-shaped, lance-shaped. The male catkins are pendulous, with 1 sepal. The female catkins are in a solitary spike, not so long, and nearly erect. The scales of the fruit are winged, wedge-shaped, 3-lobed to the middle, the lateral lobes bent back, spreading. The fruit is inversely egg-shaped, rounded, with a notched wing, in threes. The Birch is 20-80 ft. in height. It flowers in April and May, and is a deciduous tree.
This plant differs in habit, being bushy, with rhomboid, egg-shaped leaves, the lateral lobes of the fruiting bracts being erect. The young shoots are downy. The leaves are smooth, flat above, with raised veins beneath. The stipules are egg-shaped, blunt, twice as broad as long, the sides turned down. The buds are egg-shaped. The twigs are often pendulous. It is 6-15 ft. in height, flowering in May and June, and is a deciduous tree or shrub.
The habitat of this shrub is woods, copses, and hedges. The Hazel has the tree or bush habit. The trunk may have a girth of 3 ft. It has the young twigs usually glandular, roughly hairy or downy. The branches are tufted, the bark rich brown, smooth, warted. The leaves are rounded, in two rows, with an unequal base, heart-shaped, with a narrow point, downy below, toothed, with blunt points. The stipules are blunt, oblong. The male catkins are long, drooping, in a raceme, the female flowers in egg-shaped buds nearly stalkless. The fruit is woody, clustered, the involucre bell-shaped, spreading, or palmate, a cupule. The Hazel grows to a height of 6-20 ft. or rarely 30 ft. It flowers in March, and is a deciduous shrub.
Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus, L.) - The habitat of this tree is woods in central and southern England, damp clayey woods, and hedges. The Hornbeam has the tree habit. It is a small tree, with a trunk, flattened, frequently of 10 ft. girth. The bark is smooth and ashen-grey. The leaves are more or less in two rows, shortly stalked, egg-shaped, elliptical, plaited in the bud, with double, deep, and sharp teeth, hairy below. The male catkins are pendulous, the bracts acute, egg-shaped, lance-shaped. The female catkins are pendulous in fruit, cylindrical, with an entire or toothed bracteole. The female bracts are 3-lobed, the middle one largest, the lobes lance-shaped. The fruit is green with 7-11 ribs. The Hornbeam is 70 ft. in height when full grown. It flowers in May. It is a deciduous tree.
In this country it is a very doubtful native, having been cultivated since Caesar's time, and found in parks and plantations. The Sweet Chestnut has the tree habit. The trunk is usually twisted, and deeply, spirally furrowed. The leaves are oblong, lance-shaped, toothed, smooth both sides, with narrow, long, blunt points. The barren catkins are long and cylindrical. The perianth is made up of 6 segments. There are 8-20 stamens. The fertile flowers are 3 in a 4-lobed prickly involucre. There are 6 stigmas. The nut is 1-celled with 1-3 seeds. The Sweet Chestnut is 60-90 ft. in height, flowering in April and May. It is a deciduous tree.