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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Shrubs in Ireland ... Hedging in Ireland

Irish native Hazel ... Corylus avellana .. An Coll


 
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
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Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:48 am    Post subject: Irish native Hazel ... Corylus avellana .. An Coll Reply with quote

Irish native Hazel ... Corylus avellana .. An Coll

Our native Hazel (Corylus avellana), a member of the birch family, is one of the commonest shrubs or small trees which grow in Ireland. Also known as Hazelnut, Common filbert, Wood nut, Halenut, Cobnut or Stock nut, it can be found growing naturally within hedgerows or scrubland, and as an under-storey plant to woodlands.

. Hazel fruit/nut, flower, stem and leaf, photo / pic / image.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Corylus
Species: C. avellana

Chromosome number: 2n=22 (22, 28 )


As one would expect of a plant whose native roots are so firmly set into this isle, Hazel is also linked to us on historical and mythical levels. In Celtic beliefs, Hazel was traditionally, the plant of knowledge, its nuts representing all wisdom enclosed within a protective shell. The legend of the Salmon of Knowledge would have us believe that the salmon ate the 9 hazelnuts of poetic wisdom, which fell from the hazel tree growing beside its sacred pool, each nut eaten became a spot on the salmons skin.

On a historical level, it is believed that as early as 6000 BC Hazel rods were woven into panels for the creation of wattle and daub walls, similar to those that encase Crannógs. Wet clay, dung, chopped straw and lime combined with the Hazel rods to provide shelter for our ancestors.

Hazel is renowned for its ability to produce a valuable supply of these greyish-brown coloured rods, provided the plant is cut right back to a stump periodically. Treated in this way the bush re-grows its shiny stems as a dense thicket above a large base, often up to 2 metres wide.

Because Hazel grows in this fashion, I heartily recommend that you include it within your gardens mixed native or wild hedgerow. That, and the many mosses, liverworts and lichens its mature trunks eventually support, not to mention the insects, which look forward to its spring flowers.

I'm sure you are familiar with the male hazel flowers, those drooping "lamb's-tail" style catkins, pale yellow in colour throughout their 5cm (2 inch) length. But have you seen the female flowers? These maidenly flowers expose themselves as tiny red tufts, resembling punk rockers hairstyles, bristling out of little egg-shaped buds, appearing about the same time as their male equivalents.

. .
Male hazel flowers (catkins) and Female Hazel flowers, photo / pic / image.


Surprisingly, both the male and female flowers grow on the same Hazel plant, opening upon leafless stems from January to April, an initial sign of spring in the garden. However, a single tree cannot pollinate itself, as successful pollination can only happen between different trees, but when it does it results in hazelnut production.

. . Hazel nuts, photo / pic / image.

A delicious nut for eating raw from the shell, or cooked in a hot pan for a few minutes, Hazelnuts can be harvested from September onwards.
The nuts, green at first, turning light brown in autumn, are not just for us hungry humans though. They are also an important food source for mice, pigeons, and pheasants, who while eating many of the fruits, will also disperse or overlook a lucky few nuts which go on to produce new hazel plants the following spring.

Hazel has deciduous foliage, which is green from April onwards, into summer, finally changing to yellow in autumn before shedding.
These 10 cm wide leaves, softly hairy on both sides, are rounded in shape, with a jagged edge ending in a point at their tip. I remember particularly liking the ribbed or wrinkled surface of the Hazel leaf as a child, and I still do today.

While wonderful within a hedgerow, hazel can also be planted as an individual shrub, which if left unpruned seldom grows past six metres tall. Its an easily grown plant on most soils, but requires a moist, free-draining, alkaline soil, in full sun to partial shade for the production of hazelnuts.

Other interesting Hazel facts.
It is estimated that the Hazel in Ireland provides support in the form of habitation and food for 73 different insect species.


Chart shows approximate distribution of the native plant within Ireland, each dot is a 10km square in which the species grows.

Back to native Irish shrubs.

Hazel images courtesy
Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Dragan Nestorovic, elektra, Yugoslavia, FR (Serbia/Montenegro)
www.forestryimages.org

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needtoknowhow
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the ploughing championships last year i got a little sapling from Coillte which i left in the garage till i was ready to plant it and then forgot it and it looked half dead until my partner planted it in a plastic pot and left it to grow to see what it was - i'd lost the information. Its now growing into a fairly healthy looking 2 footer and i finally recognise the leaves as being those of the hazelnut. So now i'm not too sure what i should do with it was I'm not sure it'll look too well in my sixth of an acre estate garden short fat garden. Is there any way to encourage it to grow as more of a tree than a bush? When should it be transplanted and should i be trying to track a companion to make nuts? My partner treats it as his baby at this stage!!!
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one, good to hear your hazel is still alive.
You can encourage it to grow as more of a tree than a bush by removing lower branches as they appear, to eventually leave you with one trunk.
You will more than likely have a lessened crop growing in this fashion.
You will need at least one other plant of native Hazel (Corylus avellana) to ensure successful pollination, as hazel is self-incompatible - where a single tree cannot pollinate itself.

Leave it till autumn to plant out into the garden, in that time check and prepare the ground so that it contains moist, free-draining, alkaline soil.

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needtoknowhow
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice one, thanks for that GPI.
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