The hazelnut tree, scientifically known as Corylus, stands tall and proud, its branches laden with vibrant green leaves that rustle in the wind, whispering secrets of the ages. This tree is renowned for its medium-sized stature, reaching up to 20 feet, creating an enchanting forest canopy. The leaves are broad, heart-shaped, and exude a fresh, earthy aroma. In spring, it dons delicate catkins, showcasing nature’s artistry at its best. But the real treasures lie within its branches – hazelnuts encased in a hard shell, hiding the rich, buttery goodness within.
Hazelnut trees, diverse in their traits, offer a fascinating array of types. The most common species include Corylus avellana, Corylus americana, and Corylus colurna. Each species possesses unique characteristics, from the size of the nuts to the shape of the leaves. Some hazelnut trees boast smooth, silvery bark, while others showcase a rugged, textured exterior reminiscent of ancient wisdom etched in wood. Nature has sculpted these trees with meticulous care, making each hazelnut tree a testament to the wonders of evolution.
Hazelnut trees find their roots in various corners of the world. They flourish in North America, Europe, and Asia, adorning landscapes with lush foliage and bountiful nuts. Historically, hazelnuts have held significant cultural importance. In ancient Celtic traditions, these nuts symbolized wisdom and inspiration, while Greek mythology often linked them to divine knowledge. Native Americans revered hazelnuts for their nutritional value, incorporating them into their diets and medicinal practices. These cultural echoes continue to resonate today, making hazelnut trees not just botanical wonders but also carriers of cultural heritage.
Apart from their cultural significance, hazelnut trees offer a plethora of practical uses. The nuts harvested from these trees serve as culinary delights, enriching dishes with their nutty flavor. From decadent desserts like chocolate hazelnut spread to wholesome salads adorned with roasted hazelnuts, these versatile nuts add a delightful crunch to various recipes. Moreover, hazelnuts are rich in protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients, making them a valuable addition to a balanced diet. They not only tantalize the taste buds but also nourish the body, making them a favorite among health-conscious individuals.
As a master gardener, I’ll share my extensive knowledge about hazelnut trees in this guide, covering their intriguing characteristics, types, native habitats, and practical applications. Get ready to explore the wonders of these remarkable trees and discover the secrets hidden within their branches.
Botanical Name: Corylus
Common Name: Hazelnut Tree
Plant Type: Deciduous Tree
Hardiness Zones: 4-9 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
Soil Type: Well-drained, loamy soil
Soil pH: 6.0-7.5 (Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil)
Maturity: 3-5 years
Height: 15-20 feet
Spacing: 10-15 feet apart
Bloom Time: Late winter to early spring
Flowers: Both male flowers and female flowers appear on each shrub.
Flower Color: The catkins of hazelnut trees are yellowish-green in color.
Native Area: Europe, Asia, and North America.
Hazelnut Tree Plant Care
Caring for hazelnut trees involves a thoughtful balance of attention and understanding their specific needs. Proper care practices are essential to ensure optimal growth and a bountiful harvest of hazelnuts. Begin by selecting a suitable planting site with well-draining soil, preferably loamy and slightly acidic to alkaline. These deciduous trees thrive in full sun to partial shade, so choose a location where they receive adequate sunlight throughout the day. When it comes to watering, hazelnut trees require consistent moisture, especially during dry spells, but they don’t tolerate waterlogged soil. Mulching around the base of the tree helps retain moisture and suppresses weeds.
Hazelnut trees, belonging to the Betulaceae family, are hardy in zones 4 to 9. Regular pruning is necessary to maintain their shape and encourage air circulation within the branches, which aids in disease prevention. Prune during late winter or early spring when the tree is dormant. Pay attention to diseased or damaged branches, removing them to promote overall tree health. Fertilize hazelnut trees annually with a balanced fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for robust growth. As these trees mature, they offer beautiful yellowish-green catkins in late winter to early spring, adding ornamental value to your garden.
One critical aspect of hazelnut tree care is pest and disease management. Keep an eye out for common hazelnut pests like aphids and caterpillars. Natural predators like ladybugs can help keep aphid populations in check. Regularly inspecting the leaves and nuts lets you detect any signs of disease early, ensuring timely treatment. By following these, you’ll nurture healthy hazelnut trees that reward you with a delightful harvest of abundant crops and delicious and nutritious nuts each year.
Light is a fundamental factor influencing the health and growth of hazelnut trees. These trees thrive in locations with full sun to partial shade, making them adaptable to various landscapes. When planting hazelnut trees, choosing a spot where they can receive ample sunlight is crucial. Full sun exposure ensures vigorous growth and abundant nut production.
However, hazelnut trees can tolerate partial shade, especially in regions with intense sunlight. If your garden has areas with filtered sunlight, hazelnut trees can still flourish, although their growth might be slightly slower. Adequate light promotes robust foliage and encourages the development of healthy hazelnuts, making it essential to consider when cultivating these remarkable trees.
One of the fundamental aspects of hazelnut tree care revolves around understanding and meeting their specific soil requirements. Hazelnut trees thrive in well-drained, loamy soil with a balanced moisture retention and drainage mix. It’s essential to ensure the soil is neither too compacted nor waterlogged, as these conditions can hamper the tree’s growth.
Also, hazelnut trees prefer slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.5. Testing the soil’s pH level and amending it if necessary can significantly impact the tree’s overall health and productivity. Providing the right soil conditions creates a solid foundation for your hazelnut tree, enabling it to flourish and bear the bountiful harvest of nutritious nuts.
Proper watering is essential for the healthy growth of hazelnut trees. These trees need consistent moisture, especially during their initial years. Young hazelnut trees should be watered regularly, ensuring the soil around them remains damp but not waterlogged. Deep watering, allowing the moisture to reach the root system, is crucial.
Established hazelnut trees have moderate drought tolerance but require adequate hydration, especially during dry spells. Monitoring the soil moisture levels and adjusting the watering frequency based on weather conditions is essential. Mulching around the tree’s base can help retain soil moisture and regulate water uptake. Regularly checking the soil’s moisture content and providing a well-balanced watering schedule will contribute significantly to the overall health and productivity of hazelnut trees.
Temperature and Humidity
Hazelnut trees, resilient and adaptable, require specific temperature and humidity conditions to thrive. Generally, these trees prefer temperate climates with cool winters and mild summers. They are well-suited for hardiness zones 4 to 9, where they can withstand varying degrees of cold temperatures. However, hazelnut trees also need winter chill to encourage proper fruiting.
Regarding humidity, hazelnut trees can tolerate various humidity levels, making them suitable for different regions. While they are relatively resilient, providing adequate moisture, especially during dry spells, is essential to support healthy growth. Proper mulching around the tree’s base helps retain moisture and maintains a stable environment for these trees to flourish. By ensuring the right balance of temperature and humidity, you can nurture your hazelnut tree and enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious nuts.
Understanding their fertilizer requirements is essential when it comes to ensuring the optimal growth of hazelnut trees. With their sprawling branches and bountiful nuts, these trees have specific nutrient needs for healthy development. Providing a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K) suitable for hazelnut trees is crucial.
A slow-release granular fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or similar is recommended. It’s best to apply the fertilizer in early spring, just before new growth begins, to support the tree’s energy requirements for the upcoming season. A well-fertilized hazelnut tree exhibits lush foliage and ensures a prolific harvest of delectable hazelnuts. Remember, proper fertilization is key to hazelnut tree care, enhancing their overall health and productivity.
Pruning is vital to hazelnut tree care, ensuring their health, shape, and productivity. Regular pruning, typically done in late winter or early spring when the tree is dormant, helps remove dead or diseased branches, encouraging new growth. Removing any crossed or crowded branches is essential to allow proper airflow and sunlight penetration, fostering a healthier canopy.
Trim back any branches growing towards the tree’s center to maintain an open, well-ventilated structure. Additionally, prune away any water sprouts or suckers at the tree’s base to direct the energy toward the main branches. Hazelnut trees respond well to rejuvenation pruning, where older, less productive wood is removed, stimulating the growth of new, vigorous branches.
Remember to use sharp, clean pruning tools to make precise cuts, minimizing damage to the tree. Regular and thoughtful pruning enhances the tree’s overall appearance and promotes better nut production, ensuring a thriving hazelnut tree in your garden.
During winter, hazelnut trees need protection against freezing temperatures and frost. Mulching around the tree’s base with a thick layer of organic material, such as straw or compost, acts as a natural insulator, shielding the roots from extreme cold. Wrapping the tree trunk with burlap or tree wrap prevents sunscald, a common issue caused by temperature fluctuations.
Additionally, watering the tree adequately before the ground freezes helps it withstand winter drought stress. Regularly inspecting the tree for signs of pests or diseases and promptly addressing any issues ensures the hazelnut tree enters the winter season in optimal health, ready to blossom and bear fruits when spring arrives.
Types of Hazelnut Tree
Hazelnut trees offer various species and cultivated varieties, each presenting unique characteristics and flavors. Let’s explore these diverse hazelnut varieties, including the widely recognized European Hazelnut.
Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)
Corylus avellana, commonly known as Common Hazel, is a widely cultivated species celebrated for its flavorful nuts. These medium-sized trees, reaching up to 20 feet in height, produce nuts encased in a hard shell. Harvested in late summer and early autumn, Common Hazels are cherished for their sweet, rich taste, making them popular choices for culinary uses and confectionery. The male catkins are a food staple of ruffed grouse throughout the winter.
American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Corylus americana, the American Hazelnut Tree or the American Hazel, is a native species in eastern North America. These thicket-forming shrubby hazelnut trees, ranging from 8 to 12 feet tall, bear delicious, round nuts encased in a thick, fringed husk. Valued for culinary applications and wildlife habitats, American Hazelnuts thrive in various soil types and harsh climates, making them a favorite among gardeners and nature enthusiasts. Squirrels, deer, turkey, woodpeckers, pheasants, grouse, quail, and jays prefer the nuts produced by this shrub.
Turkish Hazel (Corylus colurna)
Corylus colurna, also called Turkish Hazel, hails from Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. Towering 40 to 60 feet, these hazelnut trees feature long, slender nuts with a thin shell, offering a delightful, sweet flavor. Highly prized in the culinary world, Turkish Hazels are often used in baking and confectionery. Hardy and adaptable, they find favor among growers in diverse climates.
European Hazelnut (Corylus avellana var. pontica)
The European Hazelnut, a specific variety within the Corylus avellana species, is renowned for its high-quality nuts. Originating in Europe, these hazelnut trees have a long history of cultivation. They produce nuts with a distinct, rich flavor and are widely used in European cuisine. European Hazelnuts thrive in temperate climates and well-drained soil, making them a sought-after choice for commercial and home cultivation.
Cultivated Varieties: ‘Barcelona,’ ‘Ennis,’ and ‘Butler’
In addition to species, cultivated hazelnut varieties like ‘Barcelona,’ ‘Ennis,’ and ‘Butler’ offer specific traits tailored for growers. ‘Barcelona’ hazelnuts boast large, flavorful nuts, perfect for commercial cultivation. ‘Ennis’ hazelnuts are prized for high yields and disease resistance, making them popular in orchards. ‘Butler’ hazelnuts, known for excellent nut quality and adaptability, are favored for their versatility in various soil types. These cultivated varieties provide growers with options suited to their unique needs and preferences.
How to Plant Hazelnut Tree From Seed
Planting a hazelnut tree from seed is a rewarding venture, allowing you to witness the growth of a magnificent tree from a tiny seed. Follow these steps to nurture your hazelnut seed into a flourishing tree that will grace your garden for years.
Step 1: Preparing the Seed
Start by selecting a healthy hazelnut seed. Place the seed in a water bowl to test its viability – if it sinks, it’s good to go. Next, scarify the seed coat gently, using sandpaper or a file, to encourage germination. Soak the seed in water for 24 hours, promoting hydration and preparing it for planting.
Step 2: Planting the Seed
Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil. Dig a small hole, about 2 inches deep, and place the hazelnut seed inside. Cover it gently with soil, ensuring it’s snug but compacted. Water the area thoroughly to settle the soil and initiate the germination process.
Step 3: Providing the Right Conditions
Hazelnut trees thrive in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Ensure your seedling receives ample sunlight, at least 6 hours a day, to fuel its growth. Regular watering is crucial, especially during dry spells, but avoid waterlogging, as hazelnuts dislike standing water. Mulch the tree’s base to retain moisture and suppress weeds, fostering a healthy environment for your hazelnut tree to flourish.
Step 4: Addressing Common Pests and Problems
Stay vigilant for common hazelnut pests like aphids or caterpillars. A natural insecticidal soap can help keep these nuisances at bay without harming your tree. Pruning is essential to remove dead or diseased branches, ensuring your hazelnut tree channels its energy into healthy growth.
Step 5: Flowering, Fruiting, and Aftercare
With patience, your hazelnut tree will bless you with delicate catkins and, in time, clusters of nuts. Be mindful of the blooming period, usually in late winter to early spring, when the tree’s beauty peaks. After the first year, consider providing a balanced fertilizer to support the tree’s nutritional needs.
Remember, hazelnut trees are resilient but flourish with little care and attention. As you nurture your seedling into maturity, you’re not just growing a tree – you’re cultivating a living testament to the wonders of nature right in your backyard.
How to Propagate Hazelnut Tree
Below are three effective methods to successfully propagate hazelnut trees, each with unique steps.
Propagation through Tie-Off Layering:
- Select a Suitable Branch:Choose a low, flexible branch from the hazelnut tree.
- Scrape and Wound the Branch:Gently scrape off a portion of the bark to expose the inner layer.
- Secure with Moist Soil:Cover the wounded area with moist soil and secure it in place. Keep the soil consistently damp.
- Developing Roots:The branch will develop its root system over time.
- Transplant the New Tree: Once the branch has strong roots, cut it from the parent tree and transplant it to a desired location.
Propagation through Grafting:
- Select Rootstock and Scion:Choose a healthy hazelnut sapling as rootstock and a cutting from the desired hazelnut variety as the scion.
- Make Precise Cuts: Make precise cuts on the rootstock and scion to ensure a perfect fit.
- Secure Grafts: Secure the two parts together using grafting tape or rubber bands. Ensure the connection is tight and stable.
- Allow Healing:Allow the tissues to fuse and heal, usually over several weeks.
- Monitor Growth:Monitor the grafted area for signs of successful integration and growth.
Propagation through Cuttings:
- Select Healthy Branches:Choose disease-free branches from the hazelnut tree for stem cuttings.
- Prepare Cuttings: Cut branches into 6 to 8-inch sections, ensuring each cutting has multiple leaf nodes.
- Rooting Hormone Application:Remove lower leaves from the cuttings and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone to stimulate root growth.
- Plant in Soil:Plant the cuttings in a well-draining soil mixture, keeping them consistently moist.
- Monitor Root Development:With regular care, the cuttings will develop roots, indicating successful propagation.
By following these steps meticulously, you can propagate hazelnut trees effectively, enjoying the benefits of homegrown varieties and expanding the beauty of your garden.
Harvesting and Storing Hazelnuts
Harvesting and storing hazelnuts is a delightful culmination of your efforts as a gardener. Timing and handling ensure the nuts reach their peak flavor and texture. Let’s explore the best practices for harvesting and storing these delectable treasures.
Harvesting hazelnuts at the right moment is essential for their flavor and quality. The ideal time to harvest is when the nuts have fully matured but before they start falling naturally from the tree. Here are the steps for harvesting hazelnuts:
- Visual Signs:Observe the nuts for visual cues. Mature hazelnuts will have a golden-brown color and a slightly wrinkled appearance. American hazelnuts ripen over six weeks in September and October.
- Shake the Branches:Gently shake the branches to encourage ripe nuts to fall. Use a tarp or a cloth underneath to catch the falling hazelnuts.
- Handpick Remaining Nuts:After shaking, inspect the tree and handpick any remaining nuts that didn’t fall but are mature.
- Test a Few Nuts:Crack open a few nuts to ensure the kernels are fully developed and filled the shell. They should be plump and flavorful.
- Dry the Nuts:Spread the harvested nuts in a single layer in a well-ventilated area for a few days to allow them to dry slightly, making removing the shells easier.
Proper storage is vital to maintain the freshness and flavor of hazelnuts over an extended period. Nuts may be roasted and eaten or ground into flour, but they are also commonly left for squirrels and birds. Here’s how to store hazelnuts effectively:
- Shell the Nuts:If you haven’t already, remove the shells from the hazelnuts. This can be done by cracking them open with a nutcracker or rubbing them in a towel to loosen the shells.
- Select a Storage Container:Choose an airtight container to store the shelled hazelnuts, such as a glass jar or a vacuum-sealed bag.
- Keep Them Cool:Store the hazelnuts in a cool, dark place, ideally in the refrigerator or freezer. The lower temperatures help preserve their freshness and prevent rancidity.
- Avoid Moisture and Light:Ensure the storage container is airtight to prevent moisture and light from affecting the nuts, as these factors can lead to spoilage.
- Label and Date:Don’t forget to label the container with the type of hazelnuts and the date of harvesting. This helps you keep track of freshness.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Hazelnut Tree
Eastern Filbert Blight (Anisogramma anomala)
Eastern Filbert Blight is a fungal disease that poses a significant threat to hazelnut trees. It manifests as cankers on branches and trunks, eventually leading to wilting and dieback of affected parts. Keeping your hazelnut tree well-pruned and ensuring good air circulation can help minimize the risk. Also, choose resistant hazelnut varieties, which have demonstrated higher immunity against this destructive disease.
Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking insects that can infest hazelnut trees, causing distorted leaves and reduced growth. These persistent pests multiply rapidly, making early detection crucial. One natural way to combat aphids is by introducing ladybugs or lacewings, their natural predators. Alternatively, a strong blast of water can dislodge aphids from the leaves. Regularly inspect your hazelnut tree for signs of these tiny invaders, and take prompt action to prevent a full-blown infestation.
Hazelnut Weevils (Curculio nucum)
Hazelnut weevils are notorious for damaging hazelnuts by laying eggs inside the developing nuts. The larvae then consume the kernels, rendering the nuts inedible. To deter hazelnut weevils, maintain good orchard hygiene by promptly collecting fallen nuts. Applying neem oil or diatomaceous earth around the tree’s base can act as a barrier, preventing the weevils from climbing up. Regular monitoring and early intervention are key to preventing significant losses caused by these pests.
Powdery mildew is a common disease caused by fungi that can affect hazelnut trees, causing a powdery white substance to appear on leaves and branches. Proper pruning to improve air circulation, avoiding overhead watering, and applying fungicidal sprays during the growing season can help control the spread of powdery mildew. Regularly inspect your hazelnut tree for signs of this disease and treat it promptly to prevent widespread infection.
Common Plant Problems and Solutions for Hazelnut Tree
Yellowing Leaves and Poor Growth
Observing yellowing leaves and stunted growth in your hazelnut tree can be concerning. This often indicates nutrient deficiencies, particularly nitrogen. A well-balanced fertilizer, rich in nitrogen, applied in spring can provide the necessary nutrients. Additionally, adding organic matter like compost around the tree’s base enhances soil fertility, promoting lush green foliage and vigorous growth.
Wilting Leaves and Drooping Branches
If you notice wilting leaves and drooping branches, especially during the growing season, the culprit might be inadequate watering. Hazelnut trees require consistent moisture, especially in dry spells. Ensure deep watering, allowing the soil to absorb water thoroughly. Mulching around the tree’s base helps retain moisture and prevents water evaporation. Regularly check the soil moisture level and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Curling Leaves and Distorted Shoots
Curling leaves and distorted shoots are typical symptoms of aphid infestation. These tiny insects suck sap from leaves, causing deformities. Introducing natural predators like ladybugs and encouraging beneficial insects in your garden can help control aphid populations. Alternatively, spraying a mild, soapy water solution on the affected parts can deter aphids. Regularly inspect your hazelnut tree, especially young leaves, and take prompt action to prevent the aphids from spreading.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need 2 hazelnut trees to get nuts?
Yes, having two hazelnut trees is usually necessary for optimal nut production. Hazelnut trees are generally not self-pollinating, requiring pollen from another compatible hazelnut tree to produce nuts. Planting at least two varieties ensures cross-pollination, increasing the chances of a successful harvest.
Where do hazelnut trees grow best?
Hazelnut trees thrive in temperate climates with well-drained soil and moderate rainfall. They prefer areas with full sun to partial shade. Ideal regions for hazelnut cultivation include parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. In the United States, hazelnut trees grow well in states like Oregon, Washington, and certain parts of the Midwest.
Can you eat hazelnuts straight from the tree?
Hazelnuts are typically encased in hard shells when they mature on the tree. While eating them straight from the tree is not recommended due to the tough shell, once they are harvested and properly processed, hazelnuts are delicious and nutritious. Roasting the nuts or using them in various culinary applications enhances their flavor and makes them enjoyable. Many birds, including blue jays, woodpeckers, and quail, feast on the nuts, while deer and rabbits are known to eat the twigs and leaves.
Are hazelnuts tree nuts?
Yes, hazelnuts are tree nuts. They grow on hazelnut trees and are classified as tree nuts. Hazelnuts contain healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are commonly used in cooking, baking, and snacking due to their delightful taste and nutritional benefits.
What do hazelnut trees look like?
Depending on the species and variety, Hazelnut trees generally have a rounded shape with multiple trunks or branches spreading outwards. They feature oval-shaped, serrated leaves that are bright green. In the late winter to early spring, hazelnut trees produce catkins, which are small, drooping clusters of flowers. These flowers eventually give way to the edible nuts, each enclosed in a hard shell.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.