Hamamelis Witch hazel

Hamamelis is indigenous in North America and Asia and comprises six species; apart from H. virginiana, they are all winter-flowering shrubs.

This is a deciduous, broad, woody-stemmed shrub with asymmetrical leaves and tightly packed, yellow, copper-coloured or reddish-brown flowers, which grow on the bare, greyish-brown wood in small groups, and have four short sepals and four long, often curling petals. It has large woody capsules which burst open when ripe, forcefully expelling the seeds. Cut branches will flower indoors in a vase in January/February.

Hamamelis Deutsch: Zaubernuß English: Witch-ha...

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H. x intermedia hybrids, crosses of e.g., H. japonica and H. mollis, are very different in the shape and colour of the leaves and the size of the flowers, e.g., ‘Arnold Promise’ is an erect shrub with large, pale yellow flowers in March and reddish foliage in autumn; ‘Diane’ is a vigorous, erect shrub which flowers in February with large red flowers, turning orange-brown, and reddish foliage in autumn; ‘Feuerzauber’ is a vigorous, broad shrub which has large, brownish-red flowers in January-February; ‘Jelena’ is a broad shrub which flowers profusely in December-February, with very large, copper-coloured, orange-yellow flowers; ‘Ruby Glow’ is a broad shrub which flowers in February with dark, reddish-brown flowers; ‘Vezna’ flowers in January-February with large, copper-coloured flowers; ‘Westerstede’ is an erect shrub which flowers in March with slightly fragrant, bright yellow flowers. H. japonica, Japanese witch hazel, is a broad shrub up to 3 m tall, which flowers in February-March. It has diagonally erect stems and bare or slightly hair}’, broad, oval, pointed leaves, 5-10 cm long, and aromatic flowers with bright red sepals and narrow, curling, yellow petals; ‘Zuccariniana’ flowers in March, and has green sepals and sulphur-yellow petals. H. mollis, Chinese witch hazel, is a broad shrub, 2.5-4 m tail, which flowers profusely in (December) January-February. The young shoots and wavy, round, or broad, oval, pointed leaves are covered in soft hair, and it has fragrant flowers with dark red sepals and straight, bright yellow petals, 2 cm long; ‘Pallida’ is very broad and flowers profusely with large beautifully fragrant, sulphur-yellow flowers. It has yellow foliage in autumn.

H. virginana, Virginian witch hazel, is a bushy shrub up to 4 m tall, which flowers in September-October. It has roughly serrated leaves which turn a beautiful golden-yellow in autumn, small, pale yellow flowers at the same time as the fruits which ripen only in the following autumn. The bark, branches, juice and roots of this species are used for medicinal purposes. It tolerates more shade and requires moist, acid soil. Plant in a prominent position against a dark background, in the sun or semi-shade, in acid, sandy soil, rich in humus. Prune as little as possible; remove dead wood and ugly branches. Cut thin shoots with buds to flower indoors. Propagate by sowing in moist sand (species), by layering and grafting.

Hamamelis × intermedia (H. japonica × H. mollis)

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