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Corylus avellana - hazel


Hazel’s natural range includes northwestern Asia and Europe, from the Mediterranean north to central Scandinavia and the coast of Finland. In Finland it grows in nutrient-rich deciduous and mixed forest. It prefers slopes and the foot of cliffs, and thrives in the protection of forest groves.

At Mustila, the hazel shrubs on the warm slopes opening to the southeast are of Finnish provenance, planted in or before 1910, probably with an eye to the edible nuts. The tall conifers towering above them provide a suitable degree of shade for the Hazelnut slope. The outward curving stems of the large shrubs offer luxuriant arches, bright green in spring, deep green in summer, and a beautiful yellow in autumn. The mature leaves provide deep shade for the forest floor, and when they fall they are gradually converted into rich soil, feeding the under-storey shrubs and perennials.

Early in spring the hazel shrubs carry decorative catkins. After pollination the female flowers gradually develop into nuts, enclosed in a protective husk. When the husk opens in autumn the nuts are ripe for picking. This picking season is an important job at the Arboretum in August-September. The local squirrels join in enthusiastically.


Corylus cornuta - beaked hazel



The common name comes from the shape of the nut’s protective covering, while the Latin cornus means ’horn’. The nuts themselves are larger than those of the native hazelnut (Corylus avellana) and tasty, attracting squirrels as well as people. Picking the nuts can be unpleasant, as they have a covering of prickly hairs.

In habit, the beaked hazel is a multi-stemmed erect shrub, though not as tall as the native species. It is also closer-growing, more erect, and more shrub-like, altogether more attractive in form, and would make an excellent multipurpose plant for Finnish conditions if only someone would start producing seedlings.

There are beaked hazels growing at Mustila of both eastern and western North American origin, and both have thrived in somewhat poor soil. Given the correct provenance, this species could well be hardy up to central Finland.


Corylus colurna - Turkish hazel

In total contrast to the native Finnish hazel (Corylus avellana), the Turkish hazel grows into a large single-stemmed tree with a regular conical crown. The beautiful bark is corky also on branches, though these are hidden in summer by the dense attractive foliage. The small edible nuts ripen in autumn in bunches of 3-8, each embedded within its own narrow-lobed husk.

Turkish hazel is native to south-east Europe and western Asia, where it grows on rich moist soil in shady mixed forest as well as in mountains above 1000m. Being resistant to urban pollution, it is used as a street tree in central Europe and North America. It also seems to thrive in south-west Finland, and even at Mustila seems to be growing quite happily after some early difficulties.


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