The hornbeams belong to the birch (Betulaceae) family, and their close relatives include the hazelnut (Corylus avellana), which grows naturally in Finland. The European or common hornbeam is a typical tree of the European deciduous forest and its natural range reaches north into Latvia and the southern parts of Sweden. From fossil pollen deposits it appears to have grown in Finland, too, at least in the Åland Islands, in the warmer era following the Ice Age.
European hornbeam is a handsome, quick growing tree with a beautiful leafy crown and interesting silvery grey bark which becomes fluted with age. In autumn it is decorated with dangling catkins of nutlets equipped with wing-like bracts, which persist into the winter. In warm autumns the leaves turn a good yellow, but if there are early frosts they dry while still on the tree and persist through the winter. This does not damage the tree.
The species has shown variable hardiness. In harsh winters they may suffer damage even on the south coast but the specimens at Mustila, which are of east Prussian provenance, have survived the coldest winters without much damage.