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In this blog, we pay attention to the genus Corylus, or Hazel. A beautiful genus of the Birch family, with much added value to our environment. Beginning with early flowering, followed by fresh green unfurling leaves, nuts in fall and finally a yellow-brown autumn coloration. In winter, the stocky pale green male catkins hang from the branches , waiting for the first spring warmth.

The native species is called Corylus avellana. This hazel is native to the Netherlands and is therefore adapted to our flora. Corylus avellana is host plant for the caterpillars of several butterflies such as the Hazel Owl and Horned Aurelia. Thanks to its early flowering, it is also an important gestation plant for bees.  

The blooms are extraordinary. In fact, it consists of monoecious flowers. This means that the plant forms 2 flowers, male AND female flowers.

The male flower is a catkin which blooms yellow. This flower provides the pollen.

The female flower consists of a bud with protruding red styles of stigmas during flowering. When fertilized, hazelnuts develop from the female flower.

Source : www.vroegevogels.nl

Source : www.vroegevogels.nl

Hazel’s leaves are inverted ovoid with a pointed tip at the end. The leaf edge is double serrated. The leaf veins are also clearly visible.

The leaves emerge fresh green and turn to deep green in late spring and summer. In autumn, the leaves turn yellow and brown.

There are also red-leaved Hazels, for example, Corylus avellana ‘Rote Zellernoot’ and Corylus colurnoides.

Hazelnuts are light green at first and turn brown as they ripen. Often you will also see a dull waxy glow on the hazelnut shell. 

A characteristic feature is the fruit sleeve. This surrounds the hazelnut and arises from a bract and two front leaves. These fuse together and enlarge greatly during the maturation of the ovary to hazelnut. The fruit sleeve is also strongly incised, giving a frilly appearance.

In some cultivars of Corylus avellana, it is precisely this fruit sleeve that gives additional ornamental value. For example, with Corylus avellana ‘Rote Zellernoot’.


The fruits of the hazel are edible. Forest animals such as, Squirrel, Jay, Woodpecker and Nuthatch collect the nuts and burrow them in as winter food. But it is also a delicious treat for humans. If you want to plant a Hazel with good fruit bearing for human consumption, consider Corylus avellana ‘Halle’sche Riesen’.

Where is the hazel tree found?

Hazel is naturally found in deciduous forests, as undergrowth and at the forest edge. It is also used in scrub and thicket hedges. It prefers humous somewhat lighter soil and can handle quite a bit of drought. Widely applicable, therefore.

Solitary or avenue tree?

Corylus avellana is a shrub. He forms multiple strains from the base. It is therefore applicable as a solitary, multi-stemmed tree and as a forest plantation as part of a thicket.

Another species is also in culture in the Netherlands. This is the Corylus colurna. This Tree Hazel is grown as an avenue tree.

Corylus colurna

Tree Hazel, or Turkish Hazel, is a tree with a broad to conical crown. The tree has a straight continuous trunk and grows about 15 meters high. The leaf is similar to our own Hazel, but is a bit more hairy. This tree also produces a beautiful yellow fall color.

Cork grows on the bark and twig, which flakes off the trunk in scales. The fruit casing is frequently incised and involuted. Real fringes, in other words. The nuts are edible, ripe from mid-September.

This tree, unlike Corylus avellana, is suitable for paving. It tolerates drought and has a deep root system.

Are you curious about more? Then read more about the characteristics of Hazel in our Assortment.

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