This native, broadleaved tree has been used for centuries and carries the botanical name Corylus avellana. Hazel is the ideal coppice tree, meaning every few years it can be cut back to a ‘stool’ at ground level so that it produces a cluster of straight flexible stems that can be harvested. The process also extends the life of the tree considerably.
Facts about the hazel tree
Uses: In the past when a countryman wanted a piece of wood this was usually provided by his hazel copse. One seventh of the wood was cut each year to give a constant supply of poles for firewood, ‘wattle and daub’ building, thatching spars, fences and garden plant supports. A small hazel coppice industry thrives today.
Fruit: In October ripe nuts are enclosed in leafy bracts.
Flower: In late winter, male flowers form ‘lambs-tails’ catkins.
Bark: Smooth, shiny brown with conspicuous yellow lenticels and scaly patches.
Height: The hazel is rarely left to develop as a tree, but it can reach seven metres if left uncut. Usually, however, a Hazel more closely resembles a shrub.
Supporting insect species: 106
Lifespan: 70 years
Natural range: Europe (but not Shetlands) and Asia Minor