In the Gardens: A welcome surprise when all other plants have been put to bed for the winter.

Hamamelis virginiana, known as Witch-hazel, common Witch-hazel, and American Witch-hazel, is a species of flowering shrub native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, and south to central Florida to eastern Texas.

The deceptively fragile-looking blossoms that appear near the end of October seem to keep winter at bay for weeks.

The Witch hazel is a small tree or tall shrub is often multi-trunked and usually grows10-15 ft. tall but can reach 35 ft. in height. The large, crooked, spreading branches form an irregular, open crown. The floral display of witch hazel is unique. Its fragrant, yellow flowers with strap-like, crumpled petals appear in the fall, persisting for some time after leaf drop. Lettuce-green, deciduous leaves maintain a rich consistency into fall when they turn brilliant gold. Bark is smooth and gray.

The aromatic extract of leaves, twigs, and bark is used in mildly astringent lotions and toilet water. A myth of witchcraft held that a forked branch of Witch-hazel could be used to locate underground water. The foliage and fruits slightly resemble those of the shrub hazel (Corylus). Upon drying, the contracting capsule can eject its small seed as far as 30' (9 m).

Chief Horticulturalist tip: A welcome surprise when all other plants have been put to bed for the winter. Its well adaptive to our climate and makes a great addition to any garden in need of fall colours.

It can be found on the east side of Section 64 behind upright monuments.


witch hazel in bloom