Witch Hazel
Hamamelis virginiana
Family Hamamelidaceae

* Leaves lobed, with uneven bases. 2-7".
* Buds hairy, stalked at base, without scales.
* Leaves and twigs hairless.
* Seed pods stubby, with 4 parts.
* Flowers yellow,petals very narrow and randomly curved.
* Height: 10-25'.

Natural History:
* Flowers September - November. Witch hazel is one of a very few species that flowers in autumn.
* Fruits August - October. Seed pods visible any time.
* Habitat: Woods, wet soil.
* Range: Eastern United States and Canada.
* Native. Similar species: Buckthorn, alder.

* From witch hazel comes the occupation "witching," as in "witching rod" and "witcher."

* Witching rods are forked pieces of witch hazel wood, used by "witchers" or "diviners" to determine the location of underground water and gold. The points of the rods must point north and south, so that the rod is influenced by both the rising and setting sun. Supposedly the rods tug downward when there is water or gold beneath the ground.

* Witch hazel also has several medicinal uses. Ewell Gibbons ("Stalking the Wild Asparagus") makes an ointment for sore muscles by distilling dry, crushed witch hazel leaves and water in a kettle still, and mixing the resulting liquid with rubbing alcohol.


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008