Witch Hazel
Hamamelis Virginiana

Herbal Remedy: The leaves and bark are astringent, tonic, and sedative.
Used for minor cuts, abrasions, Insect stings and bites.

Dowsing Rod: A limb from this Shrub was a favorite
of persons who used it to search for underground Water.



This 12-foot Autumn-blooming woodland Shrub has Blooms which look like  yellow wood shavings on zig-zagging horizontal Branches. The blooming begins about the time the brilliant yellow Leaves fall in the first weeks of October. 

This is followed by clusters of 3 green Seed Pods which will turn brown and  ripen late the next Summer. Each of the 3 Pods contains 2 seeds, which for all the world look like black miniature wooden Dutch Shoes. When the Seeds are fully ripened, they are violently ejected more than 20 feet into the undergrowth to distribute and perpetuate their species.
 

Top insert shows the immature Seed Pod which will ripen one year later.

Bottom insert is a closeup of a Bloom with its 4 yellow Petals.

Top right: Twin Seeds peek out of their Pod, awaiting the propulsion which will send them to their new home. The copper Penny indicates their size.

Center right: Evidenced by the holes, these 3 seeds have become home and/or food for foraging Insects.

Bottom right: These are perfect candidates for sprouting
in your damp, shady flower bed.

Witch Hazel may be mistaken for Spice Bush, which also has Yellow Blooms when trees are bare of leaves, and also grows in moist woodlands. But Spice Bush blooms in very early Spring and is easily identified by scratching its fragrant. spicy bark.



You may notice a peculiar growth on the Leaves which resembles a 3/8" red or black Cone (depending on time of year). This is the home of the Aphid (Hormaphis hamamelidis) which injected the leaf with a specialized chemical to form the Gall, housing her 50+ female offspring.

A small hole underneath the leaf  directly below the Gall, indicates that they have matured and flown away to distribute their species in a complex life cycle of three generations that involves Birch Trees.


The dissected closeup on the right reveals several occupants inside, and a pile of their white waxy excretion. The walls of this protective home provide the perfect environment and sustenance for these tiny Creatures.



Should you decide to sprout this Seed, mimic the woodland conditions where it was found. This usually equates to damp, shaded, and slightly acidic Soil. Collect only those Seeds which are black and "hard as nails". Get about 8 or 12.

These seeds have hard coats and may sprout quicker if their coats are nicked with a Fingernail File or Emery Board. Be careful not to damage the underlying tissue,  which may allow bacteria to invade the seed.

Plant them at various depths from 1/8" to 1/2" to provide different conditions so there is a better chance that at least one will sprout and survive. Cover them with humusy Woodland Soil from the place of their origin. A square foot of Hardware Cloth laid on top of each Seed will help deter hungry Creatures.






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