The hazels (Corylus) are a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae, though some botanists split the hazels (with the hornbeams and allied genera) into a separate family Corylaceae.
They have simple, rounded leaves with double-serrate margins. The flowers are produced very early in spring before the leaves, and are monoecious, with single-sex catkins, the male catkins are pale yellow and 5–12 cm long, and the female ones are very small and largely concealed in the buds, with only the bright-red, 1- to 3-mm-long styles visible. The seeds are nuts 1–2.5 cm long and 1–2 cm diameter, surrounded by an involucre (husk) which partly to fully encloses the nut.
The shape and structure of the involucre, and also the growth habit (whether a tree or a suckering shrub), are important in the identification of the different species of hazel.
Male flowers of common hazel in early spring
Leaves and nuts of Turkish hazel: note the spiny involucres (husks) surrounding the nuts
Female flower of C. avellana
Famous quotes containing the word hazel:
“For spring had entered the capital
Walking on gigantic feet.
The smell of witch hazel indoors
Changed to narcissus in the street.”
—John Ashbery (b. 1927)