he American Hazelnut is revered as a prolific fruit tree and wildlife tree, yet its vibrant fall colors also lend it unmistakable ornamental value. Its delicious and nutritious nuts, prized for their sweet kernels and easily cracked shells, are coveted by humans and animals alike, from masterful chefs to your yard’s busy family of squirrels. As a species, the American Hazelnut is known for its durability and low-maintenance requirements, with its dense foliage providing ample shade and usually transitioning from green to golden-bronze; if carefully attended to, however, you can reap a greater quantity and quality of hazelnuts. This tree grows swiftly and, after two or three years of initial growth, typically produces a generous autumnal crop each year for approximately a half century.
Belonging to the Betulaceae family, Corylus Americana is commonly known as the American Hazelnut, and is indeed native to eastern North America. Cultivated as a lovely ornamental and fruit plant in gardens and lawns throughout the eastern and central states of the U.S., the American Hazelnut adapts hardily to a range of soils and has a 4-9 hardiness zone rating. In the wild, it can be frequently found in upland prairies, woodlands, thickets, valleys, and forest outskirts. The American Hazelnut’s foliage and fruit is most prosperous and abundant when the plant is situated in full sun to partial shade and cultivated within medium, well-drained soil.
Relatively fast-growing, the American Hazelnut has a spherical shape and typically sprouts multiple trunks from its base. It normally survives for over 80 years, producing an abundance of nuts. It can reach a height of 10-16 ft. with an 8-13 ft. spread. From March to April, rose-pink and tawny-brown catkins add muted streaks of color to the American Hazelnut’s smooth gray bark. Its deciduous foliage is composed of dark green leaves that invigorate the tree with lively autumnal shades of bright yellow, bronze-brown, and even wine-red. The tree’s fruit matures in late summer and early autumn, serving as a valuable food source. The American Hazelnut specimen provides hazelnuts that are as flavorful as their European counterparts (Corylus Avellana), but are significantly smaller and appear to be more susceptible to blights and gall.
This tree has also been called “Filbert”, a name of French origin that some say is derived from St. Philibert (whose saint’s day is August 22nd, corresponding to the ripening dates of some hazelnuts in Europe). Early English settlers coined the name “Hazelnut”, making this the more popular term. Our acknowledgement of this species’ worth extends back nearly 2,000 years ago, however, when the Ancient Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides famously emphasized the medicinal properties of the hazelnut for curing coughs, easing colds, healing hair loss, and so forth.
Photos Copyright © Horticopia, Inc. 2017
Photos Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
Photos Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
This Tree's Zone: 4 to 9
Your Growing Zone:
|Fall Foliage||Red, yellow, green|
|Bloom||Brown and red|
|Bloom Time||March to April|
|Shape||Round to spreading|
|Sun||Full sun to part shade|
|Size||10 to 16 feet|
|Spread||8 to 13 feet|