Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Hamamelis virginiana

Witch hazel, American witch hazel, Common witch hazel, Winterbloom

Hamamelidaceae (Witch-Hazel Family)

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel)
Makin, Julie
This small tree or tall shrub is often multi-trunked and usually grows10-15 ft. tall but can reach 35 ft. in height. The large, crooked, spreading branches form an irregular, open crown. The floral display of witch hazel is unique. Its fragrant, yellow flowers with strap-like, crumpled petals appear in the fall, persisting for some time after leaf drop. Lettuce-green, deciduous leaves maintain a rich consistency into fall when they turn brilliant gold. Bark is smooth and gray.

The aromatic extract of leaves, twigs, and bark is used in mildly astringent lotions and toilet water. A myth of witchcraft held that a forked branch of Witch-hazel could be used to locate underground water. The foliage and fruits slightly resemble those of the shrub hazel (Corylus). Upon drying, the contracting capsule can eject its small seed as far as 30 (9 m).

Image Gallery:

44 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Notes: 10-15
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Flowers 1 inch long
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Que. & N.S. to n. MI & s.e. MN, s. to FL & TX. In TX, limited mostly to the moist southeast, with disjunct populations far away in a couple of counties in central TX
Native Habitat: Moist woods, thickets, bottomlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Rich, well-drained soil. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Acid-based, Calcareous
Conditions Comments: The long-lived witch hazel performs best on moister sites. It tolerates wet soils, pollution, shade, and poor soil. Avoid extremely dry situations. Full sun forms fuller, more symmetrical plants. Closely related is H. macrophylla, which is smaller in all characteristics as compared to H. virginiana, with less showy flowers. H. macrophylla occurs from SC to FL, w. to AR & TX.


Use Ornamental: Fall conspicuous, Understory tree, Blooms ornamental, Aromatic
Use Wildlife: Birds eat the fruits (small brown capsules). Browsed by deer and beaver. Seeds-granivorous birds, Seeds-Small mammals
Use Food: First Nations used witch-hazel leaves for tea. (Athenic)
Use Medicinal: Commercial witch-hazel, an astringent liniment, is an alcohol extract of witch- hazel bark.
Witch-hazel oil has been used in medicines, eye-washes, after shave lotions and salves for soothing insect bites, burns and poison ivy rashes. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2016-02-19