Corylus americana, commonly known as American filbert or hazelnut, is a deciduous shrub native to eastern North America. It typically grows to a height of 8-16 feet and can be found in various habitats such as dry or moist thickets, woodlands, wood margins, valleys, uplands, and prairies.
The female flowers develop into small, egg-shaped, edible nuts that are about 1/2 inch long. These nuts mature during July and August and are encased in leafy, husk-like, ragged-edged bracts. The flavor of the nuts is similar to European filberts, and they can be roasted and eaten or ground into flour. However, they are also commonly left for squirrels and birds to consume.
The leaves of Corylus americana are ovate (egg-shaped with the broad end at the base), double-toothed, and dark green, measuring about 3-6 inches in length. In the fall, the foliage displays varying colors, ranging from attractive combinations of orange, rose, purplish red, yellow, and green to less notable, dull yellowish-green hues.
Overall, Corylus americana is a valuable native shrub with edible nuts that contribute to the ecosystem by providing food for wildlife, particularly squirrels and birds. Additionally, its aesthetic appeal and adaptability to various environments make it a desirable plant in landscaping and conservation efforts. Hardy in zones 4-9.
Growing European Hazelnuts (Corylus avellana) can be a rewarding experience. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to grow them:
Seed preparation: Plant the Bottle Palm seeds upon receiving them, or if storing, keep them in a refrigerator until ready for planting.
Cold stratification: Hazelnut seeds have a period of dormancy, and they need to be cold stratified to break this dormancy. The seeds are stored in a refrigerator so they have already been stratified.
Soak the seeds: After the cold stratification period, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and soak them in water for about 24 hours. This helps to rehydrate the seeds and prepare them for planting.
Prepare the planting medium: European hazelnuts prefer moist, well-drained soil. If you have access to a sterile seed starter mix, that would be ideal as it reduces the risk of soil fungi damaging the seeds and seedlings. However, if not available, you can create a suitable mixture by combining equal parts of potting soil and sand, perlite, or vermiculite. This mixture will ensure good drainage and aeration for the seeds.
Plant the seeds: Fill a pot with the prepared soil mixture and sow the soaked hazelnut seeds on the surface. Plant the seeds with the pointed end facing down and gently press them into the soil to ensure good contact.
Cover the seeds: Sprinkle a thin layer of soil, approximately 1/4 inch thick, over the seeds. This will provide the seeds with some protection and create a favorable environment for germination.
Watering: Water the soil gently to keep it consistently moist, but avoid overwatering, as waterlogged soil can lead to rot. Check the soil regularly and water whenever the top layer begins to dry out.
Provide proper care: Place the pot in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Ensure that the temperature remains relatively constant during the germination process, as extreme fluctuations can hinder growth. Keep an eye out for any signs of growth after a few weeks.
Transplanting: When the hazelnut seedlings are a few inches tall and have developed a good root system, they can be transplanted to a more permanent location. Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil. Space the hazelnut trees at least 15 to 20 feet apart, as they can grow into small trees over time.
Continued care: Hazelnut trees are relatively low-maintenance, but they will benefit from regular watering during dry periods, especially during their early years of growth. Keep an eye out for pests and diseases and address any issues promptly. Mulching around the base of the trees can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.