Witch Hazel is now blooming

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana,  Hamamelis mollis, and other cultivars) are shrubs, some of which reach 15-20 feet tall, others top out at 4-6 feet.  Witch Hazel may be the most neglected shrub ever — few people plant it.  Witch Hazel adapts to a range of conditions — wet, dry, hot, cold, good soil, bad soil, tender care, neglect — Witch Hazel just keeps plugging along.

Hamamelis mollis (also called “Chinese Witch Hazel”) is the most popular shrub.  The unique property about this shrub is that it blooms in late December through late January — in the dead of winter, after its foliage has died and the branches are bare.  Blooms vary — yellow, yellow-gold, dark orange, and combinations of these colors

Some gardeners plant Witch Hazel mixed with tall grasses so in the winter the garden features the dead, dried grass plumes as a backdrop for the brilliant yellow-gold Witch Hazel blossoms.

The blossoms have a somewhat strong, musky scent that is pleasant and quite noticeable.  On a calm day, you can sense the fragrance when you get within 8-10 feet of the shrub.

The leaves and bark of the North American witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, are used to produce an astringent  as a cooling agent for various uses in traditional medicine,  herbalism  and skincare products.  This astringent was widely used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans and is typically sold in modern pharmacies as witch-hazel water and as semisolid ointments, creams, gels, and salves.  It is commonly used to treat diaper rash in infants.   As an ingredient and a topical agent, witch hazel water is regulated in the United States as an over-the-counter drug for external use only to soothe minor skin irritations.

Here are some links to articles about Witch Hazel.

Here are photos of a Chinese Witch Hazel planted in one lawn in our neighborhood.

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