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Witch Hazel – Hamamelis Spring Bloomer

Hamamelis - witch hazel

Hamamelis – witch hazel

A  shrub with golden blossoms, a witch hazel, is blooming our our street. Some thought it was a forsythia that got it’s dates mixed up, but it is witch hazel, properly known as a Hamamelis, and about the earliest blooming plant in our area.

Witch hazel hamamelis

Witch hazel – Hamamelis

You have to get up close to appreciate and admire the twirly little blossoms. This is probably Hamamelis mollis, a Chinese witch hazel, because it is blooming in  the spring, beginning in February. Our neighborhood witch hazel has been blooming for about a month, enduring several snowstorms and frigid weather.

Arnold’s Promise, the golden spring  blooming witch hazel, is one of the most popular with gardeners. It usually grows no more than 12 feet tall with a generous spread.  Diane, with its red twirly blossoms is another popular spring bloomer.

Hamamelis virginiana,  our native witch hazel, blooms late in the fall. I have to say that I find Hamamelis mollis so encouraging when it bloom in the spring.

Witch hazel is a plant that  some of us may not recognize in a garden, but it is quite likely that we have a bottle of witch hazel in our medicine cabinets. It has been used for centuries to soothe various skin problems like poison ivy and hemorrhoids.

A witch hazel branch is also used by dowsers searching for water – or anything else. Experienced dowsers say you can dowse with anything  and many of them travel with a dowsing pendulum. Helen, a dowsing friend told us we  could dowse with a needle as pendulum hanging on a thread. While living in Maine we successfully needle dowsed to find the underground pipes in our new house when there was a plumbing problem.

We also asked the dowsing spirit where we should move in Maine to find our heart’s delight. It gave us a town midway up the coast, but in the end we moved to New York City. We found our heart’s delight there, too.

6 comments to Witch Hazel – Hamamelis Spring Bloomer

  • Witch Hazels are fun bloomers! I’ve never had one in my garden, but I enjoy seeing them in others’.

  • A witch hazel has been on my plant wish list forever! What a treat to see something blooming in winter. I remember as a child my mom always got out the witch hazel when we had an insect bite or minor scratches.

  • Nan

    What is the zone for witch hazel? And is it related to hazelnut trees?

  • Pat

    Nan – Witch hazel is from the Hamamelis genus, and hazelnut trees are from the Corylus genus. I have never had a witch hazel, but I did plant four or five hazelnuts when we lived in Heath – considered Zone 4. They grew and bore nuts which are very small, not like the European variety which are more familiar as filberts. I liked the American hazelnut just because the nut is so beautiful. I wrote about hazel nuts in 2013. http://tinyurl.com/pa4lnm8 with a photo.

  • Pat

    Rose – I am always amazed that these can grow so early – but I have never had my own, and I think my new garden has run out of space so I will have to be content with my neighbor’s beautiful witch hazel.

  • Pat

    Beth – I too will have to be content admiring witch hazels in friends’ gardens.

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