Thursday, October 18, 2012
|Witch hazel in full bloom - photos by Jonathan Schechter|
Independence Oaks County Park, Oakland County Michigan
late October 2012
Halloween is just around the corner! This is the flowering season of an amazing tree-like shrub
that thrives in the understory of many woodlands. The beautiful spider like flowers are missed by
many hikers distracted by the colors of the rest of the trees. Witch hazel may have earned its name from its
association with dowsing, the earlyAmerican practice of using a forked stick to 'witch' for water.
The bent and forked sticks of witch hazel were perfect for dowsing rods.
Some fearful "religious" people looked at that as a form of witchcraft and a threat to their beliefs.
Herbal uses of the plant are numerous with the bark, leaves, and twigs of witch hazel all high in tannins
giving this plant astringent properties.
More likely than not your grandparents medicine cabinet still has witch hazel oil.
Another trait of this awesome overlooked tree is the fact that when the seed pods are ripe and they
"explode" with a snapping sound, shooting the seeds almost twenty feet away from the parent plant.
And now you know why this plant is often found in clusters in the woodlands of our county
Witch hazel blossoms in front of an oak tree.