Witch Hazel Flowering Trees And Shrubs
When you think of Witch Hazel what comes to mind might be a bottle of astringent or an ingredient used in medicines but did you know that these medicinal ingredients were extracted from the bark and leaves of unusual small flowering trees and medium to large shade tolerant shrubs with unique blooms?
Not only does Witch Hazel stand out from the crowd with its showy blooms, it also is first in line for attention as it blooms in winter to early spring. In the cold and gray months it's quite a treat to happen upon these bright yellow or carmine red flowers and enjoy their lovely fragrance while all around the the branches of other trees are bare. I took these photos near the end of the blooming period in March in Ohio.
According to Wikipedia, Witch Hazel may have gotten it's name from the Old English word, wiche, which means bendable and the name Hazel from the Hazel twigs used for divining rods. While our early colonists used the twigs to search for water, American Indians were already aware of the medicinal benefits this unusual tree offers.
Everything about Witch Hazel seems to scream "Look at me. I'm different!" The "fruit" of Witch Hazel are the odd woody capsuled shaped objects that resemble strange nuts. Inside each are two hard black seeds. When the capsule explodes the seeds are propelled a distance from the plant.
You can find these small trees and woody flowering shrubs in zones 3 to 8. They'll do well in sun or part shade and offer you colored leaves in the fall.
They may also be great conversation starters when they bloom in your neighborhood.
So If you're looking for something to brighten up your dull winter landscape, count on these easy to grow members of the Hamamelidaceae family to get the job done.