Ironwood is a small to medium-sized (twenty to thirty-five feet) deciduous, understory tree that grows in woods throughout Eastern North America. It has handsome, smooth-textured, rippling bark (“Musclewood”) and alternate, doubly-serrated, oval leaves with a corrugated texture. The timber of Ironwood is of greater-than-average hardness and durability as suggested by its common name. It bears separate male and female catkins on the same individual tree (monoecious), the female catkins developing into the characteristic chain-like clusters of winged nutlets. Being an understory tree, it prefers part shade to full shade conditions and medium moisture. Ironwood can display bright color in autumn and has the great advantage of being low maintenance, and very low on the deer list of edible trees. The ssp. virginiana (“northern” is found more in our mountains, grading into the ssp. caroliniana on the coastal plain. Differences in leaf shape and bracts subtending the seeds are subtle.