Witch hazel has an interesting history. If you wanted to find water on your land, this was the tree to have. Dowsing rods were cut from the common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) tree and these were used to seek out sources of underground water. Other uses for witch hazel include the making of an astringent from the leaves and bark. You can purchase a bottle of witch hazel from your local drugstore today.
Witch hazel is native to the northeastern and southeastern United States where it grows on moist soil in part-shade environments.
In the landscape, witch hazel is a great shrub/tree growing to as much as 15 feet in height. In the fall, the leaves turn a gold/orange color and the plant begins to bloom.
The blooming period is October through December and these flowers are hard to miss! With a range of subtle to bright yellow colors – the flowers are a colorful addition to a bare fall/winter landscape. If you look closely at the flowers, they resemble a sea creature with many legs – maybe an octopus or a squid. The flowers have a strong fragrant smell.
Wildlife Value of Common Witch Hazel
Some birds and squirrels eat the fruit and seeds of this tree and the leaves are a host plant for the larvae of certain moths. The flowers attract insects that feed on the nectar and pollinate the flowers. Witch hazel is also browsed by deer.