|Light:||Full Sun, Partial|
|Soil:||Sand, Loam, Clay|
|Moisture:||Dry, Medium, Moist|
|Benefits:||Pollinators, Birds, Host Plant|
|Blooms:||Sep, Oct, Nov|
|Zones:||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8|
This unique native shrub has it all: great fall color, winter interest, a large vase shape, fragrant flowers, and birds eat the fruit. New leaves emerge reddish-bronze in the spring, and turn a brilliant gold in the fall. Despite its stunning fall leaf color, Witchhazel is best known for its late season blooms. The fringed flowers appear in the fall and stay on the branches long after the golden leaves have dropped. Even in the cold midwest, the fragrant yellow blooms persist into November and beyond. Hamamelis virginia is often multi-trunked with spreading branches that form an irregular, open crown. Long-lived, it performs best on moist sites but it can handle almost any situation, 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 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. In the woodland this seed dispersal results in a lovely an understory grove.
Other common names include Winterbloom, Snapping Hazelnut and Striped Alder.