Hazelnuts are beautiful, delicious

Sunday, March 14, 2010
Aaron Horrell

The American hazelnut tree is actually just a large woody- stemmed shrub. Shown here are several long male flowers (called catkins) and a single, much smaller pink female flower. Look on the largest stem just below and almost touching a long catkin (near the bottom center of the photo) to see the tiny female flower.

The catkins will appear during autumn, hang on all winter and then open in early springtime. Those in the photo are not quite ready to open. Female hazelnut flowers appearing in late February or early March are generally considered to be the earliest of all native blossoms in the Southeast Missouri spring.

It is natural for both male and female flowers to grow on the same plant.

Hazelnut leaves will turn beautiful shades of color, from orange to blood red, in fall.

The nuts (called filberts) ripen in fall, and if squirrels find these tasty filberts they will eat them. Roasted hazelnuts are great dipped in chocolate or honey.

In times past a forked hazelnut limb was considered to be the best of all "divining rods" for finding the perfect location to drill for water.

Springtime is here.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo.

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