”’Scientific Name”’: ”Corylus avellana”
”’Habitat”’: The Common Hazel is native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, and an important component of the British hedgerow. In the UK it is also often found as the understory of lowland oak, ash or birch woodland.
”’Description”’: It can often be found as little more than a shrub with multiple stems, but when left to grow can reach as high as 12 meters and live for up to 80 years. When regularly coppiced, it can live for several hundred years.
* ”’Bark”’ – Smooth brown with a light bronze sheen. Horizontal lenticels. Very thin sheets can peel away. Later, vertical fissures can appear.
* ”’Twigs”’ – Green/brown and bendy with stiff, bristly hairs. The stems are so bendy in spring that they can be tied into knots without breaking.
* ”’Buds”’ – Smooth green/brown, and oval in alternate arrangement.
* ”’Leaves”’ – The leaves are round to oval, doubly toothed, hairy, 6 to 12 cm long and pointed at the tip. Leaves turn yellow before falling in autumn. The leaves also have asymmetrical bases.
* ”’Flowers”’ – Hazel is monoecious, meaning that both male and female flowers are found on the same tree, although hazel flowers must be pollinated by pollen from other hazel trees. The yellow male catkins appear before the leaves and hang in clusters, from mid-February. Female flowers are tiny and bud-like with red styles. When the styles protrude, they look like little alien eruptions.
* ”’Fruits”’ – Once pollinated by wind, the female flowers develop into oval fruits, which hang in groups of one to four. They mature into a nut with a woody shell surrounded by a cup of leafy bracts (modified leaves). The shell starts green, but develops to brown as it ripens, then falls away from the cup.
==Pictures throughout the year==
File:Hazel Catkins_Feb.jpg|Male Catkins
Hazel nuts, also known as cob nuts, are the natural fruit from this tree, and they are nice tasting (both raw and carefully roasted), with plenty of calories. Get in before the squirrels though (see Gav Notes below). They can be eaten as is, or used as flavourings in other meals. They begin to appear in August, but will be best if there are any left in September/October.
They can also be liquidized and used as a plant milk. Rich in oil. When kept in a cool place, and not shelled, the seed should store for at least 12 months. A clear yellow edible oil is obtained from the seed which is used in salad dressings, baking etc.
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)
*650 Calories per 100g
*Water : 0%
*Protein: 16g; Fat: 60g; Carbohydrate: 20g; Fibre: 4g; Ash: 2.8g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 250mg; Phosphorus: 400mg; Iron: 4mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 2.1mg; Potassium: 900mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.3mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.5mg; Niacin: 5.3mg; B6: 0mg; C: 6mg;
Anthelmintic; Astringent; Diaphoretic; Febrifuge; Miscellany; Nutritive; Stomachic; Tonic.
The bark, leaves, catkins and fruits are sometimes used medicinally. They are astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, nutritive and odontalgic. The seed is stomachic and tonic. The oil has a very gentle but constant and effective action in cases of infection with threadworm or pinworm in babies and young children.
Hazel was historically coppiced to produce many shoots which can be used for a variety of projects, including furniture, stakes, poles, woven fences, building materials etc.
The nuts ripen in mid to late autumn, but will often be picked and stashed by grey squirrels before then. You need to be cautious, protective, or just lucky to harvest them from the wild. Best picked from the tree.
Elm (Ulmus minor var. vulgaris) leaves are similar however elm leaves are roughly hairy unlike soft hazel leaves. Elm leaves have an asymmetric leaf base.
Identified in winter by each nut is held in a short leafy husk which encloses about three quarters of the nut. Small green catkins can be present in autumn. Broken shells can often be found at the base of the tree.
”’Nuts and squirrels”’
Especially in the South of the UK, you need to get in quickly if you want to collect hazel nuts, even then you’ll need to be lucky. Grey squirrels, pests that they are, tend to collect hazel nuts before they’re ready and store them for the winter; When winter comes around, the nuts are useless for them. Red squirrels are much cleverer. But all this means, that if you wait, you might miss out. It is possible to collect them early-ish and get smaller nuts from the less ripe fruits.
* Tree & Plant ID course from Frontier Bushcraft – http://identificationmasterclass.com/
* Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corylus_avellana
* Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/native-trees/hazel/
*PFAF – https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Corylus+avellana