American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) is a small to medium tree that grows naturally in streambanks, riverbanks, and maritime forests. While it is typically an understory tree that prefers partial to full shade, it can be adaptable to drier, sunnier sites. Its most notable ornamental quality is its vibrant fall color, which can range anywhere from yellow to orange to red to reddish purple. American Hornbeam is an excellent choice for a butterfly or pollinator garden since it is a host plant to multiple species, including the Red-Spotted Purple (shown above), the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and the Striped Hairstreak. It can also be used in rain gardens since it tolerates periodical flooding. The small, ribbed nutlet produced by American Hornbeam provides food for a variety of birds and small mammals. The nutlet is edible but is not often used by humans. American Hornbeam is also commonly used as cover and shelter for wildlife.