Mariton: Witch Hazel

October 20, 2012

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

I wrote earlier about a favorite flower.  My other favorite fall wildflower is Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).  This is a small tree of the eastern United States.  It has a graceful bowing form.  I can’t figure out why it isn’t used in landscaping, because it is a beautiful tree.

It flowers in fall and the petals are just little wisps of yellow green.  The flowers will stay (some years) until Thanksgiving.  When all the leaves have dropped, you will see a small tree in the forest with a yellow halo and know it is Witch Hazel.

Of course, Witch Hazel is known for the linaments and medicines made from oils of the plant.  You’ll likely find a jar of it in an barber shop.  Perhaps less well known, it is the prefered species for witching rods used by water diviners when looking for a place to drill a well.