Additional notes (click to expand)

Featured Plant

At this time of year, Hamamelis mollis var. pallida gives an astounding show of colour and scent. Yellow petals burst from the clustered buds which are arranged all along the leafless branches. This particular plant catches the early morning sunshine which draws out the sweet fragrance of its flowers. Hamamelis are very attractive, hardy shrubs which also offer beautiful displays of autumn colour.

Horticulture

Erect shrub with broadly oval, obovate, or nearly rounded leaves, to 15cm long. Turning a magnificent yellow in autumn. It has clusters of large, sulphur-yellow flowers in mid-late winter. 4m high and wide. Grow in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained, acid to neutral soil in full sun or partial shade in an open but not exposed site. Witch hazels also tolerate deep, humus rich soils over chalk. Sow seed in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe. Graft cultivars in late winter, or bud in late summer.
Brickell, C. (2003). A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Dorling Kindersley. p.502

Medicinal

The bark and leaves are the source of witch hazel for bruises, haemorrhoids, varicose veins, and other skin conditions, although commercially H. virginiana is the usual source.
Oakeley, Dr. Henry F. (2013). Wellcome Library notes. link

Nomenclature

Hamame’lis- the Greek name for a plant with a pear-shaped fruit, possibly the medlar. mollis- 'soft', 'smooth'- refering to the leaves.
Stearn, W.T. (1996). Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners. Cassell. p.160

Other use

Native American tribes used decoctions of the bark of Hamamelis virginiana to reduce swellings and bruises. Colonists took notice and it was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1860 onwards. It was also thought to have supernatural properties and the forked branches were used as divining rods in the search for water and gold. Distilled witch hazel is available for external use on bruises and sprains. The tincture is much stronger and should be used only under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. Witch hazel extract is a constituent of proprietary haemorrhoid ointments and other pharmaceutical preparations.
Bird, R, Houdret, J. (2000). Kitchen and Herb Gardener. Lorenz. p.393

Geographical distribution

  • Asia-Temperate, China

Hamamelis mollis Oliv. var. pallida

Family: HAMAMELIDACEAE
Genus: Hamamelis
Species: mollis Oliv.
Variety: pallida
Common names: Chinese Witch Hazel
Distribution summary: China
Habit: Shrub
Hardiness: H5 - Hardy; cold winter
Garden status: Currently grown
Garden location: Southern Hemisphere Wolfson bed (N)
Flowering months: January


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