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Beaked Hazel Corylus cornuta


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Beaked Hazel, showing fruit
credit: Superior National Forest/CCSA

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Alternate name: Beaked Hazelnut

Family: Betulaceae, Birch view all from this family

Description Corylus cornuta (Beaked Hazel) is a deciduous shrubby hazel found in most of North America, from southern Canada south to Georgia and California. It grows in dry woodlands and forest edges and can reach 4 – 8 m tall with stems 10 – 25 cm thick with smooth gray bark. The leaves are rounded oval, coarsely double-toothed, 5–11 cm long and 3 – 8 cm broad, with hairy undersides. The flowers are catkins that form in the fall and pollinate in the following spring.

Corylus cornuta is named from its fruit, which is a nut enclosed in a husk with a tubular extension 2 – 4 cm long that resembles a beak. Tiny filaments protrude from the husk and may stick into, and irritate, skin that contacts them. The spherical nuts, which are surrounded by a hard shell, are edible.

There are two varieties:
Corylus cornuta var. cornuta - Eastern Beaked Hazel. Small shrub, to 4 m tall; 'beak' longer, 3 cm or more.
Corylus cornuta var. californica - Western Beaked Hazel or California Hazelnut. Large shrub, to 8 m tall; 'beak' shorter, usually less than 3 cm.

Habitat Mountains, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Canyons & valleys, Fields.

Range California, Southeast, Plains, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes.