Hamamelis virginiana L.
Witch hazel, American witch hazel
Hamamelidaceae (Witch-Hazel Family)
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
). Upon drying, the contracting capsule
can eject its small seed as far as 30 (9 m).
Image Gallery: 30 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Simple Size Notes:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Flowers 1 inch long
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Orange , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec
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
, 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 USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsWater 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.
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: