Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wtich hazel: Blooming beauty of late October!

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.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home