Wisconsin Red™ Musclewood

Carpinus caroliniana ‘Wisconsin Red™’

Description & Overview

A Johnson’s Nursery origination; J.N. Plant Selections introduction, the Wisconsin Red™ Musclewood is a fantastic small-scale tree with a dense canopy! Improved fall color on our Wisconsin strain is reliably orange-red. Its leaf and bark characteristics resemble a small beech tree with great fall color. Not hard to transplant.


Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 25-30 feet
Mature Spread: 25-30 feet
Growth Rate: Slow
Growth Form: Small stature tree, broadly oval dense canopy.
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Full Shade
Site Requirements: Adaptable to many soils, with best performance on rich wet-mesic sites. Tolerant of mildly alkaline soils.
Flower: Catkins, monoecious
Bloom Period: April-May
Foliage: Dark Green
Fall Color: Orange-Red
Fruit Notes: Nutlet, turning red-orange to brown at maturity. Heavy seed crops every 3-5 years.

Downloadable Content

Wisconsin red musclewood carpinus caroliniana info flyer

Suggested Uses:

Wisconsin Red™ Musclewood works well for screening, understory planting, as a specimen tree, and for heavy shade.

Wildlife Value:

As a native, Wisconsin Red™ Musclewood provides both food and habitat to a myriad of wildlife in Wisconsin. The seeds, buds, and catkins are eaten by songbirds, grouse, pheasants, turkey, fox, and squirrel. The twigs and leaves may be consumed by rabbits and deer, although it is not a preferred species.

Maintenance Tips:

Like most deciduous trees, Wisconsin Red™ Musclewood should only be pruned during the dormant season after its leaves have dropped. However, its slow growth rate makes pruning unnecessary except to remove problem branches or dead wood.

Protect the easily damaged smooth-barked trunk from mechanical and animal damage over winter with a vinyl tree guard or mesh fencing.

Pests/Problems:

Anthracnose, Botryosphaeria canker, and Nectria Canker are all known pathogens for Musclewood, but maintaining the health and vigor of the Wisconsin Red™ Musclewood through proper mulching and watering makes these diseases less likely to impact the tree.

Leaf Lore:

Wisconsin Red™ was created using the genetics of a former J.N. Plant Selections heavyweight, J.N. Strain Musclewood. Although J.N. Strain exhibits beautiful fall color, Wisconsin Red™ is reliably red-orange, every time. The Wisconsin Red™ strain also has improved vigor, making it that much more valuable as a landscape plant.

We also propagate the straight species of Musclewood, Carpinus caroliniana and other Musclewood varieties for those who are looking to naturalize an area.

Companion Plants:

Ironwood, Serviceberry, Elderberry, Viburnum



johnson's nursery plant knowledgebase for the midwest tree logo popout 32x32
johnson's nursery plant knowledgebase for the midwest tree logo popout 32x32
johnson's nursery plant knowledgebase for the midwest tree logo popout 32x32
johnson's nursery plant knowledgebase for the midwest tree logo popout 32x32