Species: Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Family: Birches and Alders (BETULACEAE)

Category: Flowering Plants

Location: NW

A. Flowering Plants

More extensive information on flowering plants can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Birches and Alders (BETULACEAE)

This is a family of nut-bearing trees and shrubs, largely found in temperate regions.

C. Hazel (Corylus avellana)

The pale yellow hanging catkins of the male flowers appear in January, along with the bud-like female bright red styles. The tough and pliant wood of this native tree is ideal for dowsing or divining rods, hoops for lightweight barrels, casks, walking sticks, hurdles (or wattles), lobster pots, salmon putchers and eel griggs, and the spars, runners and pegs used by thatchers. Coracles consist of tarred canvas stretched over a hazel framework. Hazel faggots were used for foundations on boggy ground and dyke making. Ship’s fenders, to protect the side of a ship from impact with the quayside, were made from bundles of hazel.

A stick of hazel with honeysuckle twined round it is very lucky, especially if you are courting.

Pick the nuts when brown, if the squirrels have left any. They are rich in vitamins B1 and C, and also in Calcium and protein. Try grinding them into a powder and stirring into a mixture of milk and honey (in the ratio 1 of nuts, 1 of honey and 3 of milk). Nutting is the gathering of wild hazelnuts, but in times past this was only done by boys because of the belief among girls that harvesting nuts, a powerful fertility symbol, would make them pregnant. Hazelnut spread is an old favourite.

Additional Information

Recipe for Hazelnut Spread

6 oz (150g) nuts 1 lb (450g) butter.
Blanch the nuts in boiling water, remove and crush to a smooth paste, adding drops of water as required. Cream with the butter and pass through a sieve. Spread on fresh bread it is irresistible.

Hazel nuts are also excellent in salads, cake mixtures, and, when ground, in sauces and tart mixtures.

Recipe for Carrot and Hazelnut Cake

¼ pint (150ml) sunflower oil 8 oz (225g) soft brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten 2 tsp mixed spice
9 oz (250g) plain flour 2 tsp baking powder
3 oz (75g) carrot, grated 3 oz (75g) parsnip, grated
grated zest and juice of ½ lemon 3 oz (75g) toasted, ground hazelnuts
3 oz (75g) fresh white breadcrumbs.
Heat the oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 4. Lightly oil a 10 in (25cm) cake tin and line the base with non-stick parchment. Put the oil, sugar and eggs in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is blended in. In another bowl sift the mixed spice, flour and baking powder, then add to the egg mixture. Then add the grated vegetables, lemon zest and juice, nuts and breadcrumbs. Fold in thoroughly to disperse the ingredients. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Images

Hazel

The catkins of the male Hazel flowers appear in January, along with the bud-like female bright red styles.

Hazel

Hazels are members of the Birch and Alder family of nut-bearing trees and shrubs, largely found in temperate regions.

Hazel

Hazelnuts are picked when brown. They are rich in vitamins B1 and C, and also in Calcium and protein.

Hazel

Male hazel catkins are designed to be blown by the wind. When their pollen grains land on tiny female flowers, the flowers will be fertilised. Hazel trees produce male catkins and female flowers on the same tree, but depend on wind to disperse the pollen.

Hazel

Tiny female flowers of the hazel tree need male catkin pollen grains to land on them for fertilisation. Hazel trees produce male catkins and female flowers on the same tree, but depend on wind to disperse the pollen.