Common Witch hazel, or Hamamelis virginiana, is blooming now
at Teton Lodge. It is growing in full sun in a well drained soil. There are
several different varieties to check out. Upright, vase shaped, rounded bush,
spreading, horizontal spreading, and weeping varieties.
Witch hazel has an upright growing habit. It can grow 12 feet
tall and wide in our area. If you are looking to add fall color to your
landscape, consider placing for the yellow gold effect. Leaves are alternate,
simple, broadly ovate, unequal offset leaf base, with large wavy teeth on the
margins. The upper surface dark green and the lower surface a paler green.
The flowers tell me winter is almost over. Beautiful yellow
frilled flowers arise on the stems before foliage.
Witch hazel has been purported to divine water sources. Early
Native Americans would use witch hazel to find underground water sources. By
holding the “dowsing” wands in each hand the wand would
bend toward the earth when water was nearby.
Another use of witch hazel is medicinal. An extraction can limit
swelling of insect bites and relieve the pain of sunburn.
On your next visit to the Memphis Zoo, check out what’s
blooming. With winter almost at an end, we can look forward to a beautiful
spring. If you are looking to add winter interest to your garden, consider
planting witch hazel in a location you can admire from your windows.