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.

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

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
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The mission of Save the Dunes is to preserve, protect and restore the Indiana dunes and all natural resources in Northwest Indiana’s Lake Michigan Watershed for an enhanced quality of life.

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