American Witch Hazel
American Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is large native shrub or small tree with a multi-stemmed trunk and spreading branches that form an irregular, open crown. Despite its stunning fall leaf color, Witch Hazel is best known for its fringed yellow flowers which appear in late fall and stay on the branches long after the leaves have dropped …
|Soil Type||Clay, Loam, Sand|
|Soil Moisture||Dry, Medium, Moist|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun, Partial, Shade|
|Height||10' - 20'|
|Bloom Time||Sep, Oct, Nov|
|Hardiness Zones||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8|
|Benefits||Birds, Pollinators, Host Plant|
American Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is large native shrub or small tree with a multi-stemmed trunk and spreading branches that form an irregular, open crown. Mature plants can reach heights of 25 feet, however 12 to 15 feet is typical. Despite its stunning fall leaf color, Witch Hazel is best known for its fringed yellow flowers which appear in late fall and stay on the branches long after the leaves have dropped. Even in the cold Midwest, the blooms persist into November and beyond. Great fall color, winter interest, a large vase shape, fragrant flowers, and fruit for the birds are features that make this a very popular landscape shrub.
Long-lived, Witch Hazel performs best on moist sites but handles most soils, growing equally well in well-drained top soil and poorly drained clay. Extremely dry situations are best avoided. As a woodland understory shrub it prefers some shade but it will grow in full sun as well.
Flowering starts when the plant is about six years old. The flowers are self-fertile and pollination is carried out by small flies and bees, foraging late in the season, along with several species of Eupsilia moths - known as winter moths - which are active on cold nights. Once pollinated the flowers go dormant for the winter, and mature the following year, taking a full season for the seed to reach maturity. The mature seeds open suddenly, with a popping sound, and are jetted to a distance of up to 30 feet from the mother tree. This shrub is also commonly called Snapping Hazel. In the woods this seed dispersal method can eventually result in a lovely an understory grove.
American Witch Hazel is an important host for numerous small moths, including the Witch Hazel Dagger moth (Arconicta hamamelis).