|Witch Hazel in bloom|
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a very common shrub in our region that is often overlooked. However, it has some interesting natural history and folklore associated with it. It also is calling attention to itself as one of the only woody plants to be in bloom this time of year. Each slightly aromatic flower consists of 4 slender twisted yellow petals which are often in bloom as its leaves change color or have even already dropped for the Fall. It is usually the last shrub to bloom, giving it one of its alternate names of "Winterbloom."
Since there are few pollinators available so late in the season, the flowers can self-pollinate and are not picky as to which pollinators make use of them. Often they are gnats or Noctuid moths, but quite a few other pollinators have been noted. Each individual flower also lasts quite a long time giving potential pollinators ample time to find them.
|Witch Hazel in Fall color.|
|Winterbloom flowers with seed pods.|
|Popped seed pods and seeds. The seeds are supposed to be edible, but only as an ill-tasting starvation food.|
|A Witch Hat Gall caused by the aphid Hormaphis hamemelidis.|