Additional notes (click to expand)

Horticulture

Erect shrub with broadly oval, obovate, or nearly rounded leaves, to 15cm long. Turning yellow in autumn. Small yellow flowers are borne in autumn, as the leaves begin to fall. 4m high and wide.
Brickell, C. (2003). A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Dorling Kindersley. p.502

Medicinal

Traditional Herbal Medicine Registration (THMR).

Cherokee Indians have used witch hazel as an analgesic infusion taken for periodic pains. Cold remedy infusion taken for colds. Dermatological aid infusion used as a wash for sores and skinned places. Leaves are rubbed on scratches. Febrifuge compound infusion taken for fevers. Gynecological aid infusion taken for periodic pains. Throat aid infusion taken for sore throat. Tuberculosis remedy infusion of bark taken for tuberculosis.
Moerman, Daniel E. (2009) Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press. p.255

Source of Witch Hazel. The bark and leaves are the source of witch hazel for bruises, haemorrhoids, varicose veins, and other skin conditions. Commercially the usual source is produced by is steam distillation of the twigs and bark. The astringent action is due to the high content of several tannins.
Oakeley, Dr. Henry F. (2013). Wellcome Library notes. link

Nomenclature

It is called witch hazel from the Old English 'wice' meaning pliant or weak, referring to its bendy twigs. Hazel from the name given to it by the English Professor of Botany, Leonhart Plukenet, gardener to Queen Mary, in 1696, as having leaves like hazel (Corylus) - Pistachio virginiana nigra, coryli foliis -

Hamame’lis- the Greek name for a plant with a pear-shaped fruit, possibly the medlar. Mollis - meaning: soft, soft hairs referring - to its downy bark
Stearn, W.T. (1996). Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners. Cassell. p.160

virginiana- Of Virginia, U.S.A., named for Queen Elizabeth I, England’s ‘Virgin Queen’.
Stearn, W.T. (1996). Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners. Cassell. p.309

Geographical distribution

  • Northern America, Northeastern U.S.A., West Virginia

Hamamelis virginiana L.

Family: HAMAMELIDACEAE
Genus: Hamamelis
Species: virginiana L.
Common names: American Witch-Hazel; Virginian Witch-Hazel
Distribution summary: N.America, Mexico
Conservation status (IUCN Red List): Least Concern
Habit: Shrub
Hardiness: H5 - Hardy; cold winter
Habitat: Woodlands
Garden status: Currently grown
Garden location: Plants of the World (C)
Flowering months: October, November
Reason for growing: Medicinal, traditional herbal registration


Back to List