Reflections in Nature: Witch hazel tree is quite remarkable | News, Sports, Jobs


Have you ever been stunned to see a tree that appeared as if somebody had tied yellow ribbons on its naked branches?

“Witch-hazel blossoms in the fall, to cure the chills and fayvers all.” It’s from “The Sager Witch” by Ernest Thompson Seaton.

The witch hazel is categorized as both a big shrub or small tree. After most bushes have misplaced their leaves in the autumn, the witch hazel is in full bloom. The tree’s naked branches may have yellow flowers, with twisted and crinkled petals.

The flowers have a faint aromatic scent. The flower petals roll up in order that they aren’t harmed throughout a frost.

Another shock is that the witch hazel tree, whereas in bloom, additionally holds the seed pods from the earlier yr. The witch hazel is our solely tree that produces ripe fruit and blossoms on the identical time. The fruit is a two-celled capsule coated with what appears like suede.

New capsules are being shaped with the blossoms. Throughout the winter and summer season months, the capsule is dormant. The capsule involves life in the autumn because the seeds inside ripen. The heat fall solar dries and shrinks the capsule that fires the 2 darkish seeds from inside. The seeds go flying from the tree, with the file being roughly 40 ft. Of course, this is dependent upon the angle that the capsule is pointed on the department. An angle of 45 levels appears to supply the best distance.

On a heat fall day, a witch hazel tree lays down quite a barrage, with seeds being fired in all instructions. Although many kinds of wildlife feed upon these seeds, they’re a favourite meals of the grouse and turkey.

The Native Americans referred to as the witch hazel “Oc-eh-nah-kwe-ha-he,” which means noticed stick. The tree’s branches, which go in all instructions, are brown and speckled, with gentle brown dots. Two widespread names for the witch hazel tree are “cannon of the forest” and “spotted alder.” Since the tree blossoms in the autumn when no bugs can be found, the plant should pollinate itself. Its half-moon-shaped buds are rolled inward in a closed spiral.

Inside the buds are the anthers that maintain the pollen. Each anther has two small doorways that stay closed through the summer season; nevertheless, in the autumn, these doorways fly open, throwing pollen on the blossoms and fertilizing them.

Although the witch hazel is a local tree, its title comes from an elm tree (Ulmus glabra) that is discovered in Europe. This tree was related to lore and magic, and legend has it that its versatile branches can be utilized to search out witches. At the time settlers got here to America, the branches of the witch hazel grew to become the favourite “witching sticks” utilized by the dowsers to search out hidden water and valuable metals. An previous English phrase for pliable branches was wych, therefore, the witch a part of the title. The hazel comes about as a result of the leaves have a putting resemblance to that of the American hazelnut (Corylus Americana).

The witch hazel’s scientific title is Hamamelis virginiana. Hamamelis comes from a reputation that Hippocrates utilized to the medlar (a small hawthorn-like fruit). This title combines two Greek phrases — root, which means apple and collectively, referring to the plant’s behavior of manufacturing flowers on the identical time the earlier yr’s fruits mature and disperse the seeds.

In Colonial America, witch hazel was used as a folks drugs used for bruises, sprains, ulcers, pores and skin rashes, eye inflammations, and so forth. The American Medical Association nonetheless acknowledges its medicinal worth. Today, witch hazel is an additive in rubbing alcohol, used for treating poison ivy, insect bites, bee stings and minor burns.

The witch hazel tree is remarkable, from the October-November flowers to the exploding seeds and self-pollination. It is actually considered one of nature’s wonders and one of the fascinating bushes in Pennsylvania’s woods.

Bill Bower is a retired Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Officer. Read his weblog and hearken to his podcasts on the outside at

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