November 26, 2014

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Corylus spp. – American Hazel and Beaked Hazel

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Characteristics

Minnesota has two native hazel or filbert shrubs: American hazel (Corylus americana) and Beaked hazel (C. cornuta). These specimens are typically in shrub form with American hazel attaining 10′ (occasionally 15-18′) and beaked hazel being smaller (4-8′). Both of these shrubs will tolerate open dry sites, yet both are often found in the shade of the understory.

Multi-stemmed shrubs with a rounded form.

Quick ID: Hazels have alternate simple leaves with doubly toothed margins. The twigs on American hazel have stiff glandular hairs while the twigs of beaked hazel are smooth. The other notable difference between the two is the involucre covering of the edible nut. Beaked hazel’s involucre is downy and forms an extended tube or beak while that of American hazel is only slightly extended beyond the nut and is notched.

The male flowers, like other members of the birch family are catkins. Those of beaked hazel are rather short at 1/2 to 1″ long while those of American hazel are 1 to 3″ long. The catkins are often in clusters of two to three and terminal on the twig but the photos here display them laterally along the twigs.

Hazels are adaptable to various sunlight conditions and are tolerant of drought.

Did you know
The hazels are edible and our native species (C. americana and C. cornuta) are related to – but are currently not being used in full orchard production – that is typically European filbert (C. avellana) that are cultivated for nut production.