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Native Witch Hazel

November 30th, 2009

The native witch hazel has been blooming for a while. It blooms much earlier and is less showy than it’s cultivated cousins. These photos were taken about a month ago.
Witch hazel is an understory tree, so it thrives in the woods or along the edges of the woods. It prefers the cool shady areas and with too much sun it will produce fewer blooms. These trees are located in the woods to side of our gardens. What a great plant it is since it blooms at this weird time. When the rest of the natural world is preparing for winter it bursts forth in radiant blooms, which will last into December.
Hamamelis virginiana was one of the first New World plants to be adopted for ornamental use by European horticulturists. As early as the mid-17th century, the plant was growing in private botanical collections in London. And it’s been a perennial favorite ever since. Witch-hazel has a rich history of use outside the garden setting. Traditionally, branches of H. virginiana were used as “divining rods” to locate underground sources of water. Also, extracts from the leaves, twigs, and bark were used to reduce inflammation, stop bleeding, and check secretions of the mucous membranes.
Since witch hazel usually blooms after most of the pollinators are gone, it doesn’t often produce seed. I think with the warm weather we’ve had this year, I may be able to find some seeds next year to plant along the edges of our woods.

What native shrubs or trees do you love?

7 Comments to “Native Witch Hazel”
  1. Dave on November 30, 2009 at 9:53 am

    We have two witchhazels but they still have leaves on them and no blooms. My favorite of the natives is either the beautyberry or the viburnums. Great plants! Fothergilla is a pretty neat relative of the witchhazel.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Greenhouse Project: Feeling Closed In =-.

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  2. Diane@Peaceful Acres on November 30, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Wow, I’ve learned something new today! I’m not even sure what native trees are in our area….but we have tons of volunteers like Mulberry, Black Cherry, Oak, Maple and Tulip Poplar. I discovered lots of Hedge Apple trees in my pasture after I began to mow a few years ago. They are beautiful however I have to cut off the thorns so they don’t tear open the cows sides. I’ll have to look around for witch hazel…aren’t you in the mid atlantic?
    .-= Diane@Peaceful Acres´s last blog ..Future Relations =-.

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    • Susy on November 30, 2009 at 11:50 am

      We live in the Midwest, NE Ohio.

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  3. Christine on November 30, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Beauty berry! It’s a plant that grows these clusters of perfumy berries. They don’t taste great raw (kind of like styrafoam mixed with air freshener), but once it’s boiled down into jam, it’s delicious. It smells almost exactly like applesauce. Yum!
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Another dinner outdoors =-.

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  4. MAYBELLINE on December 1, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Love the smell of sage brush along the river banks.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Thanksgiving Bounty =-.

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  5. Dan on December 1, 2009 at 2:05 am

    I have always wanted a witch hazel but any time I come across one it is always a very expensive hybrid version. They really are a beautiful shrub. I would have to say my favorite native shrub is Cornus alternifolia, I have two of them growing in the back shade garden. I love how they growing in layers, very architectural. Nice white flowers and autumn colour as well.
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Harvest Monday =-.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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