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Corylus avellana

European Hazelnut, European Filbert
Betulaceae
Deciduous, Edible fruit, Shrubs, Trees

CORYLUS

Although usually grown for their edible nuts (see Hazelnut), they make very attractive ornamental shrubs or small trees. The plants have separate female and male flowers. Female blossoms are inconspicuous; male ones are showy, appearing in pendent catkins on bare branches in winter or early spring. Leaves are roundish to oval, with toothed margins. Thin branches as needed in late winter; remove suckers when you see them.

Corylus avellana

Grows to 10–15 ft. high and wide. This is one of the species grown commercially for nuts (for those descriptions, see Hazelnut). There are many ornamental varieties in this group.

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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‘Contorta’

Rounded growth to 8–10 ft. tall and wide. Grown for fantastically gnarled and twisted branches and twigs, revealed after its 2 to 2 1/2-in. leaves turn yellow and drop in autumn. Branches are used in flower arrangements. Plants are almost always grafted, so suckers arising from the base below the graft should be removed; they won’t have contorted form.

‘Red Dragon’

Red new growth is held long into the season but eventually fades to green. Branches are contorted. Resistant to eastern filbert blight (see Hazelnut). ‘Red Majestic’ is similar but may not hold its red color as long and is not disease-resistant.

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