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American Hazelnut Corylus americana

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Corylus americana var. indehiscens
Phonetic Spelling
kor-EE-lus a-mer-ih-KAY-na
Description

Cultivated in the US since the late 1700s, the common name is derived from 'hazel', which is an old English name for filbert.  Corylus comes from the Greek word 'korus' which means 'helmet', referring to the shape of the hard nut shells.  

Hazelnut is a suckering, native deciduous shrub in the Betulaceae family that may grow 9 to 12 feet tall. It can be found naturally in rocky woodlands, forests, hillsides, pastures, and thickets. Its leaves are alternate with a double-toothed margin and hairy stem. The bark is gray-brown and smooth with a crisscross netted pattern. Its light brown, male flowers and red, female stigma and styles mature in early spring.

This medium to fast-growing plant can increase in height from 13-24" annually.  It has one central stem and will send up many auxiliary stems from the root system.

The shrub produces a 1/2-inch brown nut that is enclosed in a hairy, leaf-like husk with ragged edges. The nuts are edible at maturity in the fall, typically from September to October.  The nuts are typically produced on plants that are 2-3 years old and older.  For the best nut production, the plant should be grown in full sun.  Harvesting can be done while the husks are still green.  Once they turn tan, competition with the local wildlife will increase.  

Pruning can be done year round.  Spreading in the form of suckers from the roots should be thinned out to prevent or reduce thickets.  

The female will produce red flowers, while the male will have yellowish-brown catkins.  Catkins are pollen bearing clusters of long anthers that hang from the branches.  They can be on the same plant, however, they are not self-fertile.  Planting should be done in multiples to ensure that cross-pollination takes place.

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaf:  Fall                   Blooms:  Winter/early spring            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer/fall

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Although there are no serious issues, this plant can be visited by Japanese beetles, scale, leaf hoppers, and various foliage-eating caterpillars. Has occasional problems with leaf spots, blight, and crown gall.  This plant suffers moderate damage from deer.  It is not salt tolerant.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#native shrub#low maintenance#edible nuts#small mammals#food source wildlife#fire low flammability#NC native#wild turkeys#small and large mammals#quail#thickets#native garden#colonies#edible fruits#background planting#Braham Arboretum#naturalized area#food source summer#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#FACU Piedmont Mountains#Coastal FACU#partial shade tolerant#Audubon#colonizing#woodland garden#native#suckering shrub#suckering#thicket
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#native shrub#low maintenance#edible nuts#small mammals#food source wildlife#fire low flammability#NC native#wild turkeys#small and large mammals#quail#thickets#native garden#colonies#edible fruits#background planting#Braham Arboretum#naturalized area#food source summer#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#FACU Piedmont Mountains#Coastal FACU#partial shade tolerant#Audubon#colonizing#woodland garden#native#suckering shrub#suckering#thicket
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Corylus
    Species:
    americana
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Nuts are similar in flavor to the European filbert, and may be roasted and eaten or ground into flour, but are also commonly left for the squirrels and birds.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    United State and Canada
    Distribution:
    Eastern and Mid United States into Canada
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The nuts are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, quail, wild turkeys, chipmunks, black bears, foxes, white-tailed deer, skunks, and squirrels.  The twigs and leaves are browsed by white-tailed deer. It is also the host plant for caterpillars of the Saturniidae moth.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Colorful
    Edible fruit
    Screening
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape.
    Edibility:
    Its nuts are edible.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 9 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 13 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Dense
    Erect
    Mounding
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Female flowers develop into a small cluster of green nuts enclosed by two protective bracts that turn brown when the nuts are ripe. Nuts are 1/2 inch in size. Display time is late summer and fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    There are separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Several female flowers bloom together from a small swollen bud that is surrounded by protective bracts with only the red stigmata showing beyond the bracts. The male flowers are showier in 2-4 inch long yellow to yellow-brown catkins. Bloom time is winter and early spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The dark green leaves are up to 5 inches long by 3 inches wide. They have sparse hairs and an oval to elliptical shape with doubly serrated margins. The lower surface is a lighter green and has stiff short hairs. Fall color is variable and can be an attractive yellow-red to purple or a dull yellow-green.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is gray and smooth on young branches, becoming rougher on older branches and the trunk.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The multi stems are light green with short hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Fire