Species Of The Week Number 15: Hazel

It is pretty grim outside this week but the earliest signs of a new year's growth can be seen in tree buds, and in particular the catkins adorning local Hazel trees.

Hazel is native to the UK has long been coppiced. This involves cutting down new branches or 'wands' which, as they are so flexible, have a variety of uses including making hurdles for fencing as well as furniture and bean poles. You can actually buy hazel wands locally from leedscoppiceworkers.co.uk. The coppicing process encourages new growth meaning it is a very sustainable resource. Coppiced Hazel trees can live for hundreds of years

The catkins themselves are the male flowers of Hazel, and are accompanied on the same tree (meaning they are monoecious) by tiny bud-like female flowers, with red extensions or styles. Trees are pollinated by the wind not insects. The pollen isn't sticky so it doesn't stick to insect bodies.

Hazel nuts or cobs are eaten by birds and squirrels so you have to be quick when they appear. The nuts used to be harvested commercially in the UK, but this has declined with now only a few cultivated varieties being collected down in Kent.

In addition Hazel leaves provide food for the caterpillars of moths, including the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock. Hopefully we can find some of them in the coming months and add them to the growing number of Meanwood Valley species (which is currently standing at 246)

Posted on 05 January, 2023 17:18 by clunym clunym


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