Witch Hazel


Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Description:

Another very attractive yet rare native shrub. It grows to a height of 20 ft. (6 m) and is a slender, graceful shrub. The leaves are 2-6 in. (5-15 cm) long, wavy and toothed, and turn yellow in the fall. In September and October, as the leaves are falling, the bright yellow flowers bloom. The flowers look like those of the forsythia shrubs commonly planted around Island homes, yet appear at the opposite end of the growing season. The seeds are shiny and black, encased within a capsule 1/2 in. (1.2 cm) long. Buds are small, velvety-brown and alternate.

 

Growing Conditions:

The best growth is made under light shade in rich, well-drained soil, but it tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Witch hazel is a slow growing shrub but is quite hardy.

Propagation:

Collect the capsules as they turn from green to light brown throughout September. Place these in a paper bag or cardboard box in a warm place and allow to dry. The bag should be closed, since as the capsule dry, they split in half and throw out the seeds with a loud “snap”. Plant the seeds every 2 in. (5 cm) in rows 4 in. (10 cm) apart, at a depth of 1/4 in. (6 mm). Seeds generally take two years to germinate and should be lightly mulched and given light shade. Any seedlings that germinate the first year should be carefully transplanted to another bed with some shading. Witch hazel is not as forgiving of rough handling as some other native plants.

Wildlife Uses:

The value to wildlife is relatively low, but red squirrels and ruffed grouse eat the seed and the plant provides cover and protection for other species.

Areas of Usage:

Another excellent landscape plant if you have some shade. Again, it is important in woodland plantings for its beauty and the diversity it provides. Witch hazel is very useful as a medicinal. The twigs and bark are used to produce oil of witch hazel, while the roots are used to produce a tincture that is also known for its healing powers. Also, witch hazel is the shrub of choice for making the divining rods used in water-witching.

Upcoming Events

Apr
27
Sat
7:30 pm Owl Prowl
Owl Prowl
Apr 27 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Come join the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project in celebrating the wonderful world of owls at one of this year’s Owl Prowls. To meet the growing interest in these fascinating birds, there will be Owl
May
4
Sat
2:00 pm Landscaping with Native Plants
Landscaping with Native Plants
May 4 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Want to spend less time cutting grass and more time enjoying the beautiful plants around your home? This workshop introduces a variety of hardy native plants to attract wildlife and beautify your yard.
May
11
Sat
8:00 am Birds and Breakfast
Birds and Breakfast
May 11 @ 8:00 am – 10:00 am
The Macphail Homestead will be open at 7am to serve a free “early bird” breakfast. Join other birders beside the fireplace in the Great Room for at hot beverage and breakfast treats to start your
May
18
Sat
10:00 am Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
May 18 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Participants will practice pruning on a variety of plants in the nursery, arboretum and woodlands. Please bring along any of your favourite pruning tools. Workshop will include a slide show and demonstration of proper pruning
May
25
Sat
10:00 am Creating and Maintaining Hedgero...
Creating and Maintaining Hedgero...
May 25 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
This workshop will look at on creating diverse, beautiful and functional hedgerows and windbreaks using a variety of native plants. Participants will learn about which plants are best, spacing, planting and maintenance.

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