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.
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.