Corylus avellana - Hazel

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Magnoliopsida - Order: Sapindales - Family: Betulaceae

Hazel

Squirrels and other animals are very fond of hazel nuts, which ripen in September and October. The hazel more often forms a bush, but trees to eight metres or so can be seen occasionally.

Coppiced Hazel at NOar Hill, southern England

Coppiced Hazel, as seen above, was used for making sheep hurdles (fence panels for penning sheep in prior to dipping or shearing).

Hazel catkins

In late winter the hazel catkins develop. The sheep-tail-like catkins are actually the male flowers. Blooming in early spring, the tiny red female flower is easily overlooked - an example is just visible in the picture below.

Leaves of a Hazel bush

The leaves appear after the catkins. They have a few soft hairs on the upper surface and are more hairy beneath, and they alternate along the stems. Hazel nuts often grow in clusters of two, three or four, and are usually between 1 and 1.5 cm across. Cultivated variants, such as Filberts (Corylus maxima) and Kentish Cobs have larger nuts.

Hazel nuts