Hamamelis virginiana indiana dunes

Family:     Hamamelidaceae (Witch hazel family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     up to 7.6 m (up to 25 ft)

Blooming: Oct.-Dec.


Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana  L.

Multi-branched shrub or small tree with smooth gray-brown bark

Flowers: clusters of yellow four-parted flowers form along the branches in the fall and persist into the winter.  The petals are up to 2.5 cm (1 in) long and look strap-like.

Leaves: alternately arranged on short stalks. The leaves are up to 12.7 cm (5 in) long with a smooth top surface.  They are widest above the middle with  irregular, wavy margins in the upper half and uneven bases.

Twigs: reddish brown with paintbrush-like buds.

Sun:  Full sun to partial shade

Ideal Conditions:  Dry to moist shaded to partially-shaded areas..

Season Change: leaves turn yellow to orangish brown before falling while flowers are present; flowers mature into cute, brown woody capsules.

Hamamelis virginiana indiana dunes
witch hazel bark

Comments: small black seeds eject powerfully from the fruit's capsules.  These seeds make a popping sound if you are lucky enough to be standing in earshot when this occurs, shooting them up to 6 m (20 ft) away. Witch hazel oil is still used as an "all-purpose healing" remedy containing gallic and tannic acid (Eastman 1992).

Landscape: this small tree or large shrub is not only a good understory shrub for your natural shady areas, but a nice ornamental shrub for your open landscape.  It adds funky yellow flowers to your late fall and winter landscapes as well.  The seasonal yellow leaves make autumn taste a little better for your eyes.

all photos by Nathanael Pilla

witch hazel flower
witch-hazel fruit
witch hazel indiana dunes

Eastman, J.A. 1992. The Book of Forest and Thicket: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA. pp. 103-106.

Species Present and Native