Common Hazel Corylus avellana
The Common Hazel is a small tree or shrub found in woodlands and hedgerows. It is native to Britain and grows throughout Europe and Western Turkey. In old woodlands it is usually multi-stemmed, having been cut repeatedly (coppiced), to provide wood for building or fencing. Male catkins open from December to April and Hazel nuts ripen by September. Wild tree nuts are usually eaten by squirrels but nuts are also produced in commercial quantities for use in confectionary and as feedstock for animals.
A Common Hazel tree with fresh green leaves in mid May. Most hazel is found in woodlands and is multi-stemmed, a result of coppicing which is an old practice in which the tree is cut back to ground level every 8 years to provide a harvest of stems called poles.
The toothed leaf is heart-shaped and soft to the touch. The leaf has a sharply pointed tip. The underside of the leaf is covered in fine white hairs.
The bark is shiny and has horizontal lines of ‘breathing pores’ known as lenticels.
The male flowers are on yellow catkins that hang down ready to release pollen onto the wind . There may be over 200 unisexual male flowers on a single catkin. After pollen release, the male catkin soon drops off.
Female flowers are red and tiny and are located in a flower bud on the branch above the catkin. This close-up shows the red stigmas that collect pollen from the wind. Inside the bud are 6 flowers. Each flower has 2 crimson styles that stick out at the top. They have areas (stigmas) that are receptive to the pollen, released from the male catkins.
Each flower bud, containing 6 flowers, develops into a cluster of from 1 to 4 hazel nuts. The nut sits in a leafy cup and is sometimes called a Cob. Photo taken in July.