Hazel: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flowering Common Hazel in early spring
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiospermae
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Corylus

See text

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,[1][2][3][4] though some botanists split the hazels (with the hornbeams and allied genera) into a separate family Corylaceae.[5][6]

Leaves and nuts of Turkish Hazel: note the spiny involucres (husks) surrounding the nuts

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 pale yellow and 5–12 cm long, the female very small and largely concealed in the buds, with only the bright red 1–3 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.[3]

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.[3]



There are 14–18 species of hazel. The circumscription of species in eastern Asia is disputed, with the Kew Checklist and the Flora of China differing in which taxa are accepted; within this region, only those taxa accepted by both sources are listed below.[7][3][8][9] The species are grouped as follows:

  • Nut surrounded by a soft, leafy involucre. Multi-stemmed, suckering shrubs to 12m tall.
    • Involucre short, about the same length as the nut.
    • Involucre long, twice the length of the nut or more, forming a 'beak'.
      • Corylus colchica — Colchican Filbert. Caucasus.
      • Corylus cornuta — Beaked Hazel. North America.
      • Corylus maxima — Filbert. Southeastern Europe and southwest Asia.
      • Corylus sieboldiana — Asian Beaked Hazel. Northeastern Asia and Japan (syn. C. mandshurica).
  • Nut surrounded by a stiff, spiny involucre. Single-stemmed trees to 20–35 m tall.
    • Involucre moderately spiny and also with glandular hairs.
      • Corylus chinensis — Chinese Hazel. Western China.
      • Corylus colurna — Turkish Hazel. Southeastern Europe and Asia Minor.
      • Corylus fargesii — Farges' Hazel. Western China.
      • Corylus jacquemontii — Jacquemont's Hazel. Himalaya.
      • Corylus wangii — Wang's Hazel. Southwest China.
    • Involucre densely spiny, resembling a chestnut burr.
      • Corylus ferox — Himalayan Hazel. Himalaya, Tibet and southwest China (syn. C. tibetica).

Several hybrids exist, and can occur between species in different sections of the genus, e.g. Corylus × colurnoides (C. avellana × C. colurna).


The nuts of all hazels are edible. The Common Hazel is the species most extensively grown for its nuts, followed in importance by the Filbert. Nuts are also harvested from the other species, but apart from the Filbert, none is of significant commercial importance.[4]

A number of cultivars of the Common Hazel and Filbert are grown as ornamental plants in gardens, including forms with contorted stems (C. avellana 'Contorta', popularly known as "Harry Lauder's walking stick" from its gnarled appearance); with weeping branches (C. avellana 'Pendula'); and with purple leaves (C. maxima 'Purpurea').

Hazels are used as food plants by the larvae of various species of Lepidoptera; see list of Lepidoptera that feed on hazels.

Mythology and folklore

The Celts believed hazelnuts gave one wisdom and inspiration, this is brought to light by the similarity between the Gaelic word for nuts, ‘cno’ pronounced ‘knaw’, and the word for wisdom, ‘cnocach’. There are numerous variations on an ancient tale that nine hazel trees grew around a sacred pool, dropping nuts into the water and were eaten by salmon (a fish sacred to Druids) and absorbed the wisdom. The number of spots on the salmon were said to indicate how many nuts they had eaten.

A Druid teacher, in his bid to become omniscient, caught one of these special salmon and asked a student to cook the fish but not to eat it. While cooking, hot liquid from the cooking fish splashed onto the pupil's thumb, which he naturally sucked to cool, and absorbed the fish's wisdom. This boy was called Fionn Mac Cumhail and went on to become one of the most heroic leaders in Gaelic mythology.[10]

The Hazel Branch, from Grimm's Fairy Tales, claims that hazel branches offer the greatest protection from snakes and other things that creep on the earth.


  1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Corylus
  2. ^ Chen, Z.-D. et al. (1999). Phylogeny and evolution of the Betulaceae as inferred from DNA sequences, morphology, and paleobotany. Amer. J. Bot. 86: 1168–1181. Available online.
  3. ^ a b c d Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  4. ^ a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  5. ^ Bean, W. J. (1976). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles 8th ed., vol. 1. John Murray ISBN 0-7195-1790-7.
  6. ^ Erdogan, V. & Mehlenbacher, S. A. (2002). Phylogenetic analysis of hazelnut species (Corylus, Corylacae) based on morphology and phenology. Sist. Bot. Dergisi 9: 83–100.
  7. ^ Kew Checklist: Corylus
  8. ^ Flora of China: Corylus
  9. ^ Flora of North America: Corylus
  10. ^ Floriz: Mythology and Folklore of the Hazel Tree

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HAZEL (0. Eng. heesel l; cf. Ger. Hasel, Swed. and Dan. hassel, &c.,; Fr. noisetier, coudrier), botanically corylus, a genus of shrubs or low trees of the natural order Corylaceae. The common hazel, Corylus Avellana (fig. 1), occurs throughout Europe, in North Africa and in central and Russian Asia, except the northernmost parts. It is commonly found in hedges and coppices, and as an undergrowth in woods, and reaches a height of some 12 ft.; occasionally, as at Eastwell Park, Kent, it may attain to 30 ft. According to Evelyn (Sylva, p. 35, 1664), hazels "above all affect cold, barren, dry, and sandy soils; also mountains, and even rockie ground produce them; but more plentifully if somewhat moist, dankish, and mossie." In Kent they flourish best in a calcareous soil. The bark of the older stems is of a bright brown, mottled with grey, that of the young twigs is ash-coloured, and glandular and hairy. The leaves are alternate, from 2 to 4 in. in length, downy below, roundish heart-shaped, pointed and shortly stalked. In the variety C. purpurea, the leaves, as also the pellicle of the kernel and the husk of the nut, are purple, and in C. heterophylla they are thickly clothed with hairs. In autumn the rich yellow tint acquired by the leaves of the hazel adds greatly to the beauty of landscapes. The flowers are monoecious, and appear in Great Britain in February and March, before the leaves. The cylindrical drooping yellow male catkins (fig. 2) are 1 to 22 in. long, and occur 2 to 4 in a raceme; when in unusual numbers they may be terminal in position. The female flowers are small, sub-globose and sessile, i It has been supposed that the origin is to be found in O. Eng. has, a behest, connected with hatan = Ger. heissen, to give orders: the hazel-wand was the sceptre of authority of the shepherd chieftain (roc u j e Xaiuv) of olden times, see Grimm, Gesch. d. deutsch. Sprache, p. i o i 6, 1848. The root is kas-, cf. Lat. corulas, corylus; and the original meaning is unknown.

FIG. I. - Hazel (Corylus Avellana). - 1, Female catkin (enlarged); 2, Pair of fruits (nuts) each enclosed in its involucre (reduced).

resembling leaf-buds, and have protruding crimson stigmas; the minute inner bracts, by their enlargement, form the palmately lobed and cut involucre or husk of the nut. The ovary is not visible till nearly midsummer, and is not fully developed before lutumn. The nuts have a length of from 2 to 4 in., and grow in clusters. Double nuts are the result of the equal development of the two carpels of the original flower, of which ordinarily one becomes abortive; fusion of two or more nuts is not uncommon. From the light-brown or brown colour of the nuts the terms hazel and hazelly, i.e. " in hue as hazel nuts" (Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew, ii. 1), derive their significance.' The wood of the hazel is whitish-red, close in texture and pliant, and has when dry a weight of 49 lb per cub. ft.; it has been used in cabinet-making, and for toys and turned articles. Curiously veined veneers are obtained from the roots; and the root-shoots are largely employed in the making of crates, coalcorves or baskets, hurdles, withs and bands, whip-handles and other objects. The rods are reputed to be most durable when from the driest ground, and to be especially good where the bottom is chalky. The light charcoal afforded by the hazel serves well for crayons, and is valued by gunpowder manufacturers. An objection to the construction of hedges of hazel is the injury not infrequently done to them by the nut gatherer, who "with active vigour crushes down the tree" (Thomson's Seasons, " Autumn"), and otherwise damages it.

The filbert, 2 among the numerous varieties of Corylus Avellana, is extensively cultivated, especially in Kent, for the sake of its nuts, which are readily distinguished from cob-nuts by their ample involucre and greater length. It may be propagated by suckers and layers, by grafting and by sowing. Suckers afford the strongest and earliest-bearing plants. Grafted filberts are less liable than others to be encumbered by suckers at the root.

By the Maidstone growers the best plants are considered to be obtained from layers. These become well rooted in about a twelvemonth, and then, after pruning, are bedded out in the nursery for two or three years. The filbert is economically grown on the borders of plantations or orchards, or in open spots in woods. It thrives most in a light loam with a dry subsoil; rich and, in particular, wet soils are unsuitable, conducing to the formation of too much wood. Plantations of filberts are made in autumn, in well-drained ground, and a space of about io ft.

by 8 has to be allowed for each tree. In the third year after planting the trees may require root-pruning; in the fifth or sixth they should bear well. The nuts grow in greatest abundance on the extremities of second year's branches, where light and air have ready access. To obtain a good tree, the practice in Kent is to select a stout upright shoot 3 ft. in length; this is cut down to about 18 in. of which the lower 12 are kept free from out growth. The head is pruned to form six or eight strong offsets; and by judicious use of the knife, and by training, preferably on a hoop placed within them, these are caused to grow outwards and upwards to a height of about 6 ft. so as to form a bowl-like shape.

Excessive luxuriance of the laterals may be combated by root pruning, or by checking them early in the season, and again later, and by cutting back to a female blossom bud, or else spurring nearly down to the main branch in the following spring.

Filbert nuts required for keeping must be gathered only when quite ripe; they may then be preserved in dry sand, or, after drying, by packing with a sprinkling of salt in sound casks or new FIG. 2. - Catkin of Hazel (Corylus Avellana), consisting of an axis covered with bracts in the form of scales, each of which covers a male flower, the stamens of which are seen projecting beyond the scale. The catkin falls off entire, separating from the branch by an articulation.

1 On the expression "hazel eyes," see Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xii. 337, and 3rd ser. iii. 18, 39.

4 For derivations of the word see Latham's Johnson's Dictionary. flower-pots. Their different forms include the Cosford, which are thin-shelled and oblong; the Downton, or large square nut, having a lancinated husk; the white or Wrotham Park filbert; and the red hazel or filbert, the kernel of which has a red pellicle. The last two, on account of their elongated husk, have been distinguished as a species, under the name Corylus tubulosa. Like these, apparently, were the nuts of Abella, or Avella, in the Campania (cf. Fr. aveline, filbert), said by Pliny to have been originally designated "Pontic," from their introduction into Asia and Greece from Pontus (see Nat. Hist. xv. 24, xxiii. 78). Hazel-nuts, under the name of Barcelona or Spanish nuts, are largely exported from France and Portugal, and especially Tarragona and other places in Spain. They afford 60% of a colourless or pale-yellow, sweettasting, non-drying oil, which has a specific gravity of 0.92 nearly, becomes solid at - 19° C. (Cloez), and consists approximately of carbon 77, and hydrogen and oxygen each 11.5%. Hazel nuts formed part of the food of the ancient lake-dwellers of Switzerland and other countries of Europe (see Keller, Lake Dwellings, trans. Lee, 2nd ed., 1878). By the Romans they were sometimes eaten roasted. Kaltenbach (Pflanzenfeinde, pp. 633-638, 1874) enumerates ninety-eight insects which attack the hazel. Among these the beetle Balaninus nucum, the nut-weevil, seen on hazel and oak stems from the end of May till July, is highly destructive to the nuts. The female lays an egg in the unripe nut, on the kernel of which the larva subsists till September, when it bores its way through the shell, and enters the earth, to undergo transformation into a chrysalis in the ensuing spring. The leaves of the hazel are frequently found mined on the upper and under side respectively by the larvae of the moths Lithocolletis coryli and L. Nicelii. Squirrels and dormice are very destructive to the nut crop, as they not only take for present consumption but for a store for future supply. Parasitic on the roots of the hazel is found the curious leafless Lathraea Squamaria or toothwort.

The Hebrew word luz, translated "hazel" in the authorized version of the English Bible (Gen. xxx. 37), is believed to signify "almond" (see Kitto, Cycl. of Bibl. Lit. ii. 869, and iii. 811, 1864). A belief in the efficacy of divining-rods of hazel for the discovery of concealed objects is probably of remote origin (cf. Hosea iv. 12). G. Agricola, in his treatise Vom Bergwerck (pp. xxix.-xxxi., Basel, 1 557), gives an account, accompanied by a woodcut, of their employment in searching for mineral veins. By certain persons, who for different metals used rods of various materials, rods of hazel, he says, were held serviceable simply for silver lodes, and by the skilled miner, who trusted to natural signs of mineral veins, they were regarded as of no avail at all. The virtue of the hazel wand was supposed to be dependent on its having two forks; these were to be grasped in the fists, with the fingers uppermost, but with moderate firmness only, lest the free motion of the opposite end downwards towards the looked-for object should be interfered with. According to Cornish tradition, the divining or dowsing rod is guided to lodes by the pixies, the guardians of the treasures of the earth. By Vallemont, who wrote towards the end of the 17th century, the divining-rod of hazel, or "baguette divinatoire," is described as instrumental in the pursuit of criminals. The Jesuit Vaniere, who flourished in the early part of the 18th century, in the Praedium rusticum (pp. 12, 13, new ed., Toulouse, 1742) amusingly relates the manner in which he exposed the chicanery of one who pretended by the aid of a hazel divining-rod to point out hidden water-courses and gold. The burning of hazel nuts for the magical investigation of the future is alluded to by John Gay in Thursday, or the Spell, and by Burns in Halloween. The hazel is very frequently mentioned by the old French romance writers. Corylus rostrata and C. americana of North America have edible fruits like those of C. Avellana. The witch hazel is quite a distinct plant, Hamamelis virginica, of the natural order Hamamalideae, the astringent bark of which is used in medicine. It is a hardy deciduous shrub, native of North America, which bears a profusion of rich yellow flowers in autumn and winter when the plant is leafless.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also hazel




  • IPA: /'heɪzəl/

Proper noun




  1. A female given name from the plant or colour hazel. Popular in the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century.
  2. A topographic surname for someone who lived near a hazel tree.


  • 1880 Steele MacKaye: Hazel Kirke ( An Iron Will):
    GREEN. - - Squire Rodney has been looking into your affairs, and, by Jove! he swears you've deceived Hazel Kirke!
    ARTHUR. Deceived her? How?
    GREEN. He says that your marriage to her was a pretence, a farce, a lie.
  • 1908 S. Florence Ray: Fallen Petals. page 17:
    In the month of May,
    When all nature seems in touch with hidden jewels,
    We called her Hazel,
    Hazel May.
  • 2002 Susan Starbuck: Hazel Wolf: Fighting the Establishment. ISBN 0295982225 page 26:
    Now, as I mentioned earlier, I never liked the name Hazel. I didn't like being called after a nut. I wanted to be called Rosemary, something pretty.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Heb. luz, (Gen. 30:37), a nutbearing tree. The Hebrew word is rendered in the Vulgate by amygdalinus, "the almond-tree," which is probably correct. That tree flourishes in Syria.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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