American witchhazel
Hamamelis virginiana

Secondary Names:

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A large, multi-trunked shrub or small tree to 20 feet tall and trunks to 4" in diameter, with arching branches that form a rounded, fountain shape.

Range/Site Description:

Occurs in southeast Texas, and in Kerr and Bandera counties in Central Texas, on moist, rich soils along streams and at the edge of forests or woodlands.


Simple, alternate, 3" to 5" long and 3" wide, round or oval in shape, lopsided at the base, prominently veined, bright green above and slightly paler below; leaf edge bluntly-toothed and wavy.


Almost unique among U.S. trees because it blooms in the fall as the leaves are dropping. The flowers are clustered along the branches, each with 4 narrow, twisting, yellow petals about 0.75" long.


A hard capsule, about 0.5" long, with two beaks. It is divided into two cells, each half containing a shiny black seed. Fruits ripen in the fall of the second season and pop open as they dry out, sending the seeds up to several yards from the parent plant.


Brown, thin, smooth at first, becoming scaly and mottled with age.


Wood is hard and close-grained, but of no commercial value. Twigs and bark can be distilled to create an extract ("witch-hazel") used as an astringent and to sooth minor cuts, bruises, burns, and insect bites.

Similar Species:

Vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) differs by flowering in late winter or early spring; hazel alder (Alnus serrulata) occurs on streambanks or wet areas in East Texas.

Interesting Facts:

Branches from this tree are often cut to make "divining rods" used to "witch" or find sources of underground water, giving it the common name, witch-hazel.

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