Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Hamamelis virginiana L.
- Family: Sweet Gum (Hamamelidaceae)
- Flowering: September-December
- Field Marks: The alternate leaves of the American witch-hazel have rounded teeth along
margins. The flowers, which bloom in the autumn and early winter, have four narrow yellow
- Habitat: Moist to dry soils in woods, along streams, bluffs, steep ravines, hammocks, floodplain
- Habit: Tree to 25 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 10 inches; crown broadly rounded.
- Bark: Light brown, becoming scaly with age.
- Twigs: Slender, flexible, brown, hairy at first, becoming smooth at maturity.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, obovate, usually rounded at the tip, rounded at the base, round-toothed along the edge, dark green and somewhat hairy on the upper surface, paler and hairy
on the lower surface, up to 6 inches long.
- Flowers: Several in a cluster up to 2/3 inch long, borne from the axils of leaf scars.
- Sepals: 4, attached to the lower part of the ovary.
- Petals: 4, yellow, strap-shaped, free from each other, up to 1 inch long.
- Stamens: 4.
- Pistils: Ovary partly inferior, very hairy; styles 2.
- Fruits: Capsules ovoid to ellipsoid, up to 1/2 inch long, brown, hairy, splitting open explosively
to expel several small, shiny seeds.
- Notes: Witch hazel, an astringent, is derived from this plant. The fruits mature one year after
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