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British Native Trees

Hazel (Corylus avellana)

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Hazel is deciduous and comes in the form shrubs and trees. These have a maximum height of just 6m and they have a life span of 70-80 years. Due to this low maximum height and their short life they are commonly coppiced and used as hedges, which can be interplanted with thorns to make the hedge fuller.

This tree is natively found throughout the British Isles, Europe, North Africa and west Asia. It prefers non-acidic soils and is a known under-cover in oak woodlands.

The Hazel’s flowering season is in February. At this time the catkins are at their most distinctive as there are no other flowers or seeds on the tree until autumn. The fruits are single sex catkins, the male are pale yellow in colour and can range from 5-12 cm long, the female catkins are hidden further up in the bud than the males and only the styles, which are 1-3mm in length are visible, these then ripen in October.

Seeds from the tree are edible nuts and a good source of food for mice, birds and squirrels. The leaves, which are round with a double serrated margin, begin to show around May just before the fruit.

The bark of this tree is white to red in colour and can be used to make sticks of different uses, for example walking sticks, as it is strong and flexible. It has been traditionally used as hurdles, basketwork, thatching and makes an excellent firewood.

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