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Hazel

Scientific name: Corylus avellana
Hazel is a small tree of woodlands, grasslands and gardens that is regularly coppiced - the practice of cutting the stems of a tree to allow new shoots to grow. It is well known for its long, yellow catkins.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 12m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Hazel is a small, shrubby tree that can be found in a variety of habitats, such as woodlands, gardens and grasslands. It is famous for its long, yellow, male catkins (known as 'lamb's-tails') that appear in spring, and its green, ripening to brown, fruits (familiar to us as 'hazelnuts') that appear in late summer. These nuts are a favourite food of Grey Squirrels, Dormice and Wood Mice, and some small mammals will cache their finds, storing them in burrows or old birds' nests.

How to identify

Hazel has shiny, brown bark and almost circular, toothed leaves with soft hairs on their undersides. It displays long, yellow catkins in spring, and provides a crop of hazelnuts in late summer.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Coppicing is the practice of cutting the stems of a tree down to the base every few years, allowing new shoots to grow and providing a crop of wood. Hazel has been coppiced for 4,000 years and the poles used for wattle (canes woven into a lattice pattern) to make fencing, hurdles and the foundation of wattle-and-daub walls for houses. Hazel is still used today for making crafts, screens and even bean poles.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.