Winter Shrub ID: American Witch-hazel

Photo of American Witch-hazel

Each year, American Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is, as far as I know, the last native shrub in New England to bloom. The yellow twist-tie-like petals usually appear in October, and make this shrub conspicuous in the forest understory. The blooming can continue for weeks, but by late winter, only yellowish sepals (pictured above) remain in clusters on branches. The leaf buds of American Witch-hazel are fuzzy, brown, and lack protective scales (the last feature is described by botanists as having naked buds).

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