Hazel Corylus avellana

Class Magnoliopsida: Dicotyledons » Order Fagales » Family Betulaceae: Birches » Corylus avellana L.

Height 12-15 m.

Hazel is generally quite a shrubby deciduous tree with many stems which occasionally may form a single bole and grow into a taller tree. The bark is smooth and greyish-brown, often shiny, peeling in strips as it ages. The green leaves are rounded with a heart-shaped base and a pointed end and can grow up to 10 cm long. It has a rough feel to it, with doubly serrate leaf edges, and a short and hairy stalk. The male catkins appear in autumn and are short and green until they open up and flower in the early spring. They are up to 8 cm long, pendulous and yellow, many of them hanging from an individual tree like fanciful decoration. The female flowers are however very small and bright red which produce the familiar brown hard-shelled nuts. They can grow up to 2 cm in size and occur in clusters of 1-4, ripening in September to October. Hazel can live naturally from 50 to 70 years, but if coppiced it can live for several hundred years.

Found in woodland, hedgerows, and parks. A native tree, common and widespread across most of the British Isles.

Hazel is an important tree in not only its production of hazelnuts which many birds and animals rely on, but also in its leaves which provide food for moth larvae, beetles and other insects. It is also important ecologically to fungus and lichens, and the general well-being of the woodland.