WITCH HAZEL

Hamamelis sp.

WITCH HAZEL (Hamamelidaceae)


Description
Witch hazel is a large shrub to small tree (10-25 feet tall). Leaves are simple and alternate with wavy edges. Leaves are dark green above and paler beneath with hairs on the main veins. The flowers are perfect with twisted strap like yellow petals around ¾ to 1inch long. They appear during October to December and are fragrant. The bark is smooth even on older trees that grow to around 30 feet tall. The fruit is a two-part capsule containing a single glossy black seed in each of the two parts; the capsule splits explosively at maturity in the autumn about 8 months after flowering, ejecting the seeds with sufficient force to fly for distances of up to 30 feet.

Occurrence
This lone tree was found on the patio next to the exit door. It is probably one of the Asiatic species that are known to exist. It was probably planted here.

Comments
The astringent witch hazel lotion is extracted from the leaves and barks and is used to treat minor skin ailments. Witch hazel has the alternative name snapping hazel due to sudden release of the seeds.



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