Hazel – Corylus avallana (Betulaceae)

Gaelic: calltainn

Common Names: Cobnut

Hazel Stems. Photo by Robyn Drinkwater

Hazel stems

Hazel is a small shrubby, multi-stemmed tree, found throughout Europe and west Asia. They flower very early in the year, producing separate male and female catkins on the same plant which are wind pollinated. The fruits are the familiar hazelnuts which are ripe in late Autumn.

The wood of hazel is widely used and it has traditionally been coppiced, removing the useful stems and promoting its naturally multi-stemmed growth. Timber was split for use in wattle fencing, the wood was a valuable source of charcoal and firewood and the flexible roots were woven in to baskets and fishing creels. Hazel was also considered to make the best diving rods – a pair of sticks held loosely in the hands and used to indicate where water sources, lead and gold can be found. The nut is also a very popular food which has been eaten since Neolithic times.