Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blooming Now! (Yes, in Minnesota in November)

Hamamelis virginiana or Common Witch Hazel is blooming now.  Blooming in October and November, this large shrub or small understory tree is a Minnesota native.  An excellent specimen tree for a smaller yard, Hamamelis virginiana does well in full sun or shade.  A relatively slow grower, Witch Hazel has a picturesque horizontal branching habit with a smooth gray bark and gorgeous yellow fall color.  And if that is not enough, in the fall when the leaves have dropped, it bursts with small, yellow, ribbon-like blooms.

Hamamelis virginiana has long been a favorite by European horticulturists.  In the 17th century, this plant was growing in botanical collections in London.  Known for it's medicinal value, extracts of the leaves, twigs and bark are used as a topical astringent.  The horizontal branching pattern of the twigs, made it popular for use as a "divining rod" to locate underground water sources.

Pollinated by gnats and bees, the late flowering period makes this plant attractive to pollinators, since it's some of the only nectar and pollen action the insects will have at this time of year.

Witch hazel prefers a soil rich in organic matter such as leaf humus.  Add this excellent shrub to your landscape a specimen or en masse.


Zoe said...

Love the smell of this stuff. I've encountered it in the suburban wilds once upon a time. Can you recommend a good mushroom field book? I want to start finding the edible species.

Wendy said...

I love the flowers on a witch hazel. Didn't know they were fall bloomers though!

Julia said...

Oh how I miss the seasons. Love your blog.