4722 Princeton Rd.

Common Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Hamamelis virginiana, known as the witch-hazel, common witch-hazel and American witch-hazel, is a native small tree or large shrub with fantastic fall attributes. Yellow, fragrant flowers bloom from October through December. Attractive foliage in all growing seasons with leaves bright green in spring followed by yellow to yellowish-orange colors in fall. The fruit is a hard woody capsule about a third to a half inch in length, which splits explosively at the apex at maturity one year after pollination, ejecting its two shiny black seeds up to 33 feet distance from the parent plant. A great tree to plant as an understory or for a shrub border in large areas. Witch-hazel grows to a height of 15-30 feet and a spread of 15-25 feet at maturity.

The extract witch hazel is distilled from the bark of young stems and roots. Native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling stems of the shrub and producing a decoction, which was used to treat swellings, inflammations, and tumors. Early Puritan settlers in New England adopted this remedy from the natives, and its use became widely established in the United States. The forked twigs of the witch-hazel also make nice divining rods.            

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