Hamamelis

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Saxifragales
Familia: Hamamelidaceae
Subfamiliae: Hamamelidoideae
Genus: Hamamelis
Species: H. intermedia - H. japonica - H. mexicana - H. mollis - H. vernalis - H. virginiana

Name

Hammamelis Gronov. ex L.

Vernacular names
Dansk: Troldnød
Deutsch: Zaubernuss
English: Witch-hazel
日本語: マンサク属
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Trollhassel
Polski: Oczar
Türkçe: Cadıfındığı

Witch-hazel (Hamamelis, pronounced /ˌhæməˈmiːlɪs/)[1] is a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, with three species in North America (H. ovalis,[2] H. virginiana and H. vernalis), and one each in Japan (H. japonica) and China (H. mollis). The North American species are rarely called winterbloom.[3][4]

Growth

The witch-hazels are deciduous shrubs or (rarely) small trees growing to 3–8 m tall, rarely to 12 m tall. The leaves are alternately arranged, oval, 4–16 cm long and 3–11 cm broad, with a smooth or wavy margin. The horticultural name means "together with fruit"; its fruit, flowers, and next year's leaf buds all appear on the branch simultaneously, a rarity among trees.[4] H. virginiana flowers in the fall of the year. The flowers of the other species are produced on the leafless stems in winter. Each flower has four slender strap-shaped petals 1–2 cm long, pale to dark yellow, orange, or red. The fruit is a two-part capsule 1 cm long, containing a single 5 mm glossy black seed in each of the two parts; the capsule splits explosively at maturity in the autumn about 8 months after flowering, ejecting the seeds with sufficient force to fly for distances of up to 10 m, thus another alternative name "Snapping Hazel".[4]

Etymology

The name Witch in witch-hazel has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning "pliant" or "bendable".[5] "Witch hazel" was used in England as a synonym for Wych Elm, Ulmus glabra;[6] American colonists simply extended the familiar name to the new shrub. The use of the twigs as divining rods, just as hazel twigs were used in England, may also have, by folk etymology, influenced the "witch" part of the name.

Genera

The Persian Ironwood, a closely related tree formerly treated as Hamamelis persica, is now given a genus of its own, as Parrotia persica, as it differs in the flowers not having petals. Other closely allied genera are Parrotiopsis, Fothergilla and Sycopsis (see under Hamamelidaceae). Witch-hazels are not closely related to the true Corylus hazels, though they have a few superficially similar characteristics which may cause one to believe that they are.

Cultivation and uses

They are popular ornamental plants, grown for their clusters of rich yellow to orange-red flowers which begin to expand in the autumn as or slightly before the leaves fall, and continue throughout the winter.

Garden shrubs


Hamamelis virginiana was introduced into English gardens by Peter Collinson, who maintained correspondence with plant hunters in the American colonies. In gardens the American H. virginiana has been superseded, except for historical garden restoration or for American native plant enthusiasts, by the more decorative Hamamelis mollis, which flowers in earliest spring, on the bare branches, instead of hiding its fall blooms among golden autumn foliage. The plant-hunter Charles Maries collected for Veitch Nurseries in the Chinese district of Jiujiang in 1879. It languished in nursery rows for years until it was noticed, propagated and put on the market in 1902.[7] Numerous cultivars have been selected for use as garden shrubs, many of them derived from the hybrid H. × intermedia Rehder (H. japonica × H. mollis). Jelena and Robert de Belder of Arboretum Kalmthout, selecting for red cultivars, found three: the first, with bronze flowers, was named 'Jelena'; the next, with red flowers, was named 'Diane' (the name of their daughter); the last, with deep red flowers, was called 'Livia' (the name of their granddaughter).

Medicinal uses

The bark and leaves are astringent; the extract, also referred to as witch hazel, is used medicinally. Extracts from its bark and leaves are used in aftershave lotions and lotions for treating bruises and insect bites. Witch-hazel helps to shrink and contract blood vessels back to normal size, hence its use as the active ingredient in many hemorrhoid medications. It is also a common treatment for postnatal tearing of the perineum. The seeds contain a quantity of oil and are edible. It is also used in treating acne.

Ecology

Hamamelis species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Feathered Thorn.

Notes

1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
2. ^ Hamamelis ovalis S. W. Leonard (2006), GRIN Taxonomy for Plants
3. ^ Noted in Ernest Thompson Seton, The Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore (1921:422), but rare.
4. ^ a b c http://www.witchhazel.com/about.htm Dickinson's Witch Hazel, commercially available witch hazel-based products
5. ^ Douglas Harper (2001). "witch hazel". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=witch+hazel.
6. ^ First occurence 1541 (OED, s.v. "Witch hazel").
7. ^ Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964) 1992, s.v. "Hamamelis".


References

Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.

Trees of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, ISBN 0-8117-2092, Charles Fergus, Stackpole Books, (2002), pp 156–9.

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