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Corylus with terminal and lateral buds

Corylus with terminal and lateral buds

Hazel Corylus avellana is in full flower at the moment. With its catkins and green buds produced alternately on the gently zig-zag stems it is probably easier to identify in the winter than when fully in leaf. I have never properly looked at the stems before and was surprised to see the long reddish gland tipped hairs sticking out above the other translucent hairs. Stace doesn’t seem to mention the glandular hairs but Poland and Clement do (a characteristic of Hazel Corylus avellana and Turkish Hazel Corylus colurna apparently). Rose and Streeter also mention these hairs and the latter uses them as a diagnostic feature.

Cut pleachers of hazel

Cut pleachers of hazel

Of course not all the features of a plant need a hand lens and one of the useful properties of hazel is its ability to be coppiced (where it is cut and grows again) or pleached (cut and laid into a hedge). Hazel is one of the easiest trees to lay because it splits easily, it doesn’t easily break off and can be twisted on itself.

Twisted pleacher

Twisted pleacher

In this photo the hazel stem is so pliable it has been cut to lay to the left and then twisted almost at right angles into the line of the hedge.

Layering hazel

Layering hazel

Another property hazel supposedly has is the ability to layer. Here a living hazel stem is being pegged into the ground before being covered in soil, the idea being it will send out fresh shoots and eventually form a new plant.

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