Witch Hazel Flowers
Witch hazel flowers are an interesting sight to behold. The petals on the small flowers are thin and wild. The shrub blooms during the most unlikeliest time of the year.
It is one of my favorite plants in the Ozarks. She is an untamed rebel, even if she or her hybridized cousins do grow well in urban gardens or hedgerows.
Two Wild Species
We have two varieties of witch hazel here in the Ozarks. One blooms in late fall and the other blooms in late winter.
Hamamelis virginiana is by far the most abundant here on our land. This witch hazel blooms in late fall with spidery yellow flowers. Sometimes you’ll even see it blooming after the leaves have dropped off.
H. virginiana grows in many areas east of the Rockies in the United States, usually around water’s edge or in rich, moist woodlands.
The other species is called Ozark Witch Hazel, or Vernal Witch Hazel. This one is endemic only to the Ozarks and blooms in late winter or very early spring. These witch hazel flowers are more of a reddish, orange color. I’ve heard they have a delightful fragrance, too, but I haven’t caught them in full bloom to get a firsthand experience.
I know where some are, though, and am going to go check on them today or tomorrow. If I’m lucky, I’ll add the pics to this post. And let you know if, indeed, they do smell nice.
Update Feb. 6, 2017: Found some!
Rob and I went out to do a little exploring along the upper Felkins creek and we found some blooming! And YES, they do smell nice. The scent isn’t powerful but it is sweet.
During early spring of 2015 I took cuttings and was having some success with them, but an unusual landslide-producing epic flood wiped out the nursery that summer.
When I do find them, I plan to take some cuttings. If they root, I’ll have some to offer in the Nature Boutique nursery this year.
You can read more about the Ozark Witch Hazel in this article at the Springfield News-Leader.
Witch Hazel in my Fiction
In the first book of the Bounty Hunter series, Treya tries chewing on a witch hazel twig. I’m going to cut a twig tomorrow and see if it’s as nasty as she thinks it is. If it’s not so bad, I’ll have to rewrite this scene.
Update: When we found the flowers blooming, I did taste a twig and it was NOT unpleasant and it did not pucker my mouth. I’ll have to update that passage.
How to Grow Witch Hazel
I’ll try to root some from cuttings from the local populations that grow here. My first attempts at this failed, but I’m going to try again. Here’s an article about the varieties you might be able to find at your local nurseries, along with some witch hazel growing tips.