I first saw the startling flowers of Beaked Hazel (Corylus cornuta) six years ago. The female flowers are the size of a pea and often bloom while the snow is still on the ground. That year it was April 8th and Liz and I were enjoying some late snow shoeing.
What a remarkable color—perhaps more so in contrast to the snow or the shock of such intensity after a long winter mainly of shades of gray?
The male flowers are catkins, also beautiful in their own way. Again, so fascinating to see their delicate, soft unfurling with snow still on the ground, puffs of pollen blowing away on the wind.
However unlikely their ecological niche, they produce results! My father-in-law speaks of a “hazel wood” on their farm in Michigan where he and his brothers harvested the small nuts.
I’ve looked for the nuts here to no avail—until Liz and I took a walk last week at North Branch Nature Center. The ripening nut is as fascinating as the flowers are!
With luck I may even have a chance to taste some though my guess is in the wild they are quite popular among many critters. Several years ago I planted two bushes in our yard and I’m hopeful they’ll one day produce enough to share! Regardless, it is delightful to finally connect the flowers and the fruit in my seeing.