OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312



Early gardens

Early plants

Growing heirloom plants

Garden folklore

Resources for gardeners

Site map

Contact us

Botanical illustration of Corylus avellana



Hazel tree

Hazels in medieval works

Description      Propagation      Cultivation       Harvest

Scientific name

Corylus avellana


Corylus is from the Greek krylos, hazel

Avellana is Latin for of or from Avella, Italy

Common names, modern
Hazelnut treeHazelnut, cobnut, filbert, hale nut, stock nut, wood nut

Filbert from St Philibert's Day, August 20, the day hazel nuts are said to begin  ripening.



Lifespan Hazel trees will bear for 30-40 years.
Cold hardiness Zones 4 - 9
Size 15-20’ tall x 15’-20' wide
Hazelnut copseHabit

Multi-stemmed small trees. Hazels quickly become a thicket due to suckers, but these can be pruned out and put to good use in the garden as pea sticks or, if allowed to grow for two seasons, as tripod sticks for climbing beans, etc. For more nuts, cut out suckers and keep one central trunk to encourage one strong tree, rather than a thicket. Selective pruning of hazel and other trees to produce wands or other timber has been done for millenia, and is called coppicing.

FlowerHazelnut flower

Male hazelnut catkinHazels flower in late winter or very early spring.


Female flowers are unobtrusive


     Male catkins are showy

Hazelnut leafFoliage

Leaves are rounded and hairy on front and back, with toothed margins.


Hazels bloom in very early spring. The long male catkins provide windborne pollen, but the small flowers aren’t fertilized until spring. They require cross-pollination, so two different varieties must be grown. In the USA, popular cultivars are Barcelona, Casina, Ennis, and Lewis.

From whip

Hazels are usually propagated from cuttings, often grafted onto Turkish hazel rootstock.

From seed

Unripe hazelnuts on tree



  • Collect fresh nuts in the fall, after they have dropped from the tree.

  • Remove the husk, and put the nuts in a small plastic bag of sand; water lightly and stir. Close the bag tightly with a twist’em; refrigerate.

  • After 6 weeks, remove the seeds from bag; plant an inch deep in potting soil,  two nuts per 6” diameter pot.  Water just enough to keep the soil moist.

  • When nuts sprout and true leaves have appeared, plants can be hardened off outside in a cold frame for two weeks, then transplanted to where they will grow.

  • Water weekly for the first summer, then as needed.

Spacing Plant 20’ apart, but within 40’ of pollinator.
Moisture Water during first summer until well established.
Light Hazels like full sun, but are also comfortable in light shade.


Soil Fertile, deep, and well-drained, neutral to alkaline

Once established, need watering only under drought conditions

Light Full sun to light shade
Natural habitat Understory tree, found in oak woods and other forests
Vigor Very vigorous when happy
Diseases In USA,  eastern filbert blight can be a problem. Cultivars with inbred resistance are Geneva, Grimo, and Slate.

Insect pests include leaf-roller moth caterpillars, which can easily be picked off and destroyed. Do this regularly to avoid infestation that can kill the tree.

Season to bloom/bear

Begins producing nuts at the age of 4-6 years, then bears for upwards of 40 years.

Harvesting nuts


Harvest hazelnuts after the husks have split open and dropped the nuts, usually in late fall. Allow the nuts to dry before storing; if you shell them first, they will dry much more quickly. They store best unroasted, and will keep in an airtight tin (to protect them from insects and rodents) in a cool place for several months; in the refrigerator for a year; and longer in the freezer.


Home | Early gardens | Early plants | Growing heirloom plants | Garden folklore | Resources | Site map


Botanists are among those who know that, in spite of the rude shocks of life,
it is well to have lived, and to have seen the everlasting beauty of the world.
F.D. Drewitt


Copyright 2011-15 S.E.S. Eberly
All Rights Reserved

Contact us