Fall Shrub ID: American Witch-hazel

Photo of American Witch-hazel flowers

I know of no native woody species who blooms later in the calendar year than American Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). While flowering occurs in October and November, fruit capsules don't develop until the following growing season. These fuzzy capsules eventually split open, launching their small seeds a short distance. American Witch-hazel is most conspicuous when in full bloom, but even after blooming, the plant can be recognized by persisting sepals, persisting open fruit capsules, and distinctive naked buds (see Winter Shrub ID: American Witch-hazel). This arching shrub or small tree lives in the understory of many New England forests. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)

2 thoughts on “Fall Shrub ID: American Witch-hazel”

  1. A very timely post – they’re in bloom all over our area in Maine right now! Our kiddos just love them, all the lore around the use of their wood. I especially love the funny irregular base of the leaves, like an invitation to recognize them.

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