The witch hazel tree is actually considered to be more of a shrub, that can grow to a height ranging anywhere between 2 feet and 25 feet. It has a light brown bark, that may be either scaly or smooth. The flowers are a bright yellow color, that look like small strips of shredded paper.
The leaves are asymmetrical at the base, and have tooth like protrusions around the edges. This tree has got its unusual name from the term 'wych', that means 'bending', because of its bending stature. The term 'hazel' has been incorporated by the fact that it bears a slight resemblance to the true hazel tree.
However, this unusual name has led to the belief that it has medicinal properties that were used to treat a variety of ailments. Let's take a look at some more interesting facts about this tree.
✔ While all other trees prepare for winter months by shedding, the witch hazel tree is in full bloom during autumn, and sometimes through winter. This trait has also made this tree popular by the name of 'winterbloom'. Its beautiful yellow flowers, that look like curled yellow paper strips, make it a great landscaping element for a yard.
✔ It is a tree that is most commonly found in southeastern United States, due to the rich, low-lying soil found in these areas. You may find it appearing along the edges of a stream or a river.
✔ The reason it is popular is because it serves as a great ornamental tree for a backyard. Also, the extract from its leaves and bark has medicinal properties, and can be used as a topical astringent for various purposes such as bruising.
✔ Several are under the impression that it is used by those who perform witchcraft, to prepare potions that are meant to ward off evil, and to heal disturbed spirits.
✔ Its seeds have flavors that are similar to those of pistachios, and are very popular among Native Americans. They have even used it to heal wounds, tumors, and skin ulcers. Its twigs were used to prepare a tea as a remedy for health conditions like cold, cough, and dysentery.
✔ There are also several popular varieties, such as the Chinese witch hazel, that has similar flowers, the Jelena, that has coppery-orange flowers, the Ruby Glow, that has coppery-red flowers, and the Fire Charm, that has orange-coppery flowers.
✔ This tree is dormant from spring through summer. That means you will not notice any blooms or leaves. However, small shoots and seed pods will be seen growing under the branches.
✔ As spring moves on to summer, though it may not seem so, upon looking closer you will find the growth of small new twigs on the branches. By mid-summer, leaves start growing from these twigs, and below these leaves is found the growth of small green seed pods.
✔ This tree begins to bloom during autumn, when all other trees are shedding. Its small yellow flowers start blossoming at this time, which emanate an unusual fragrance. The pods begin to ripen, and when the weather is very cold, these pods split open to reveal two black seeds.
These are found all around the tree, and even up to a distance of 20 feet, as they are blown in every direction by the strong winds. It is for this reason that the witch hazel has often been referred to as the 'snapping hazel'.
✔ As winter arrives, the blossoms hang on as long as they can through the winter. As spring approaches, these blossoms begin to fall. The same is the case with the leaves, that hang on to the branches through winter. When the weather gets warmer, the growth of the previous year begins to fall from the branches.
To grow this plant, all you need are some seeds, and rich, moist soil. Remember to prune it in spring when it is dormant. With the help of these facts, you can grow this beautiful tree in your own yard, that will not only lend its beauty to your landscape, but also serve as a great botanical study for those who are keen on the subject.