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Hamamelis virginiana

Common Name(s):
Common witch hazel, Witch hazel
Native Plants, Shrubs, Trees

Hamamelis virginiana, known as common witch hazel, is a fall-blooming, deciduous shrub or small tree that is native to woodlands, forest margins and stream banks in eastern North America. It typically grows 15-20’ tall with a similar spread in cultivation but can reach 30’ tall in its native habitat.  Its small stature makes it a good choice tree choice for tight spaces.  Its bark is smooth and gray to gray-brown.

Witch hazel has crooked, usually multi-trunked with low branching.  This variety is the cold-hardy of all witch hazels.  Its roots are sensitive to disturbance. It is one of the latest shrubs to bloom, often in November.  It is resistant to erosion and performs well in clay soils.

 Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaf:  Fall                   Blooms:   Fall, winter           Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Wildlife Value:    Flowers are pollinated by winter-flying noctuid moths.  Wild turkeys eat the seeds of this plant.  White-tailed deer browse the leaves but it is moderately resistant to damage. 

Play Value: Wildlife Enhancement

Seed:  Capsule

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Occasional insect galls (small wasps) appear on the foliage. Japanese beetles may chew on the leaves in some areas.


15-20 ft.
The Witch hazel has stem-hugging clusters of fragrant bright yellow flowers, each with four crinkly, ribbon-shaped petals, that appear along the branches from October to December, usually after leaf drop but sometimes at the time of fall color. Its fertilized flowers will form fruit over a long period extending through winter and into the following growing season. The fruits are greenish seed capsules that become woody with age and mature to light brown. Each seed capsule splits open in fall of the following year, exploding the 1-2 black seeds within for up to 30 feet.
Deciduous shrub
The Witch hazel is best grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, acidic, organically rich soils in part shade. It may be grown as a large, multi-stemmed shrub or trained as single trunk tree.
Open spreading; irregular branching; multistemmed
Sun to shade; moist to dry soil
Yellow spidery flowers in fall to early winter; some are fragrant
15-20 ft.
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate
Witch hazel has oval to obovate, medium to dark green leaves (to 6” long) with dentate to wavy margins turn quality shades of golden yellow in fall.
playground, small tree, erosion, ncemgva2018, deciduous, wildilfe, fall color, native, play, nectar, hedge, fragrant, moths, children’s garden, shrub boarder, fall interest, woodland garden, showy, flowering, deer resistant, pollinator

NCCES plant id: 486

Hamamelis virginiana Hamamelis virginiana
H. C. Wiliams, CC BY - 2.0
Hamamelis virginiana Hamamelis virginiana
Kurt Wagner, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Hamamelis virginiana Hamamelis virginiana
Kristine Paulus, CC BY - 2.0
Hamamelis virginiana Hamamelis virginiana
broombesoom, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0