The Hazel-nut (Corylus americana) is a colonial shrub that spreads from creeping stems lying just above or slightly below the ground. These underground stems known as rhizomes produce roots from their undersurface. Hazel-nut thickets may have several to many shrubs ranging from 3 to 10 feet tall. This species prefers rich, moist, well-drained soils. Its fruit (top photo) ripens in September. The sweet nuts may be eaten raw or ground into a cakelike bread. Small mammals, large birds and deer often eat these nuts.
The Beaked Hazel-nut (Corylus cornuta) has a fruit distinguished from the other hazelnut by the presence of a horned beak on the fruit. This species is more likely to be found in dry, rocky woods.
Both the hazel-nut and beaked hazel-nut are called American Filberts.
Copyright © 2001–2002 William T. Hathaway.