Monday, August 27, 2007

Corylus americana

American hazel (C. americana)
Form: Small shrub, often in clumps reaching 12 feet in height.
Fruit: Edible brown nuts (1/2 inch diameter) enclosed in a hairy, leaf-like husk with ragged edges; initially green, ripening to a brown in late summer.
Leaf: Alternate, simple, with a doubly serrated margin, broadly oval with a heart-shaped or rounded base, dark green above and paler below, 2 1/2 to 5 inches in length, petiole with stiff, glandular hairs.
Flower: Monoecious; males are light brown catkins (1 to 3 inch long) in clusters of two or three near branch tips, opening before leaves; females are inconspicuous with only bright red stigma and styles protruding from the otherwise gray-brown buds, appearing as short, thin, red threads, early spring.
Bark: Light grayish brown and smooth, later develops a mild criss-cross netted pattern.

Sources and further reading:
Virginia Tech dendrology factsheet
Hazelnut recipes
University of Wisconsin plants database (image source)

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