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Native Plant of the Week - Common Witch Hazel

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Hamamelis virginiana - Common Witch Hazel

Family: Hamamelidaceae

Name: Hamamelis virginiana - Common Witch Hazel

Bloom Time: October - December

Soil Condition: moist-average-dry, slightly acidic, well drained

Light: Partial Shade - Sun

Height: 10-15’, rarely to 25’

Native Range: Eastern North America (including Long Island)

Flowers: yellow

Maintenance: prune in early spring, if necessary, to remove dead or damaged branches

Hamamelis virginiana is a multi-stemmed, irregularly shaped, understory shrub with lovely golden foliage in fall followed by fragrant strappy yellow flowers in late fall and early winter. Once established it is very adaptable to a variety of soil conditions but does not tolerate long bouts of drought. Flowers (around age 6) are self fertile (no need for male and female plants) and are pollinated by flies, bees and winter moths. The seeds need a year to mature and burst open the following year when they begin flowering. Mature seeds burst open when ripe and can ‘throw’ themselves as far as 30’ from the parent thus creating a lovely grove of Witch Hazels.

Benefits: Birds and other small mammals eat the seeds. Flowers attract night pollinating Owlet, Sallow and Winter Moths.

History: The bark, twigs and leaves have medicinal chemicals called tannins that make it perfect for fighting infection and soothing redness, itching and inflammation. It is one of the few plants that meet the FDA’s standards for safety and effectiveness.

Companion Plants: Ilex opaca (American Holly), Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern), Viburnum acerifolium (Mapleleaf Viburnum)


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