Beaked hazelnut is a mound-shaped perennial shrub that bears tasty nuts and provides food and cover to a variety of wildlife. Extirpated (extinct in the wild) in Ohio, C. cornuta var. cornuta occurs natively from Washington state to the eastern coast of North America. It isn’t picky about soils and grows best in moist, well-drained sites. It can reach 15 or even 20 feet in height, growing vigorously in full sun; flowering and growth will suffer in part sun or shade. It has a shallow, extensive root system composed of a taproot, intertwining lateral roots, and rhizomes. In the wild, it’s generally an understory shrub that produces a continuous thicket in undisturbed areas. Its incredibly dense branching can obscure up to 98% of the sunlight.
Beaked hazelnut is one of the earliest shrubs to bloom in spring. Throughout winter, male catkins dangle from the bare stems. From January to March, the spiky, red flowers of the female catkins, or “little red flames” as D.H. Lawrence referred to them, emerge from their buds to await pollination. The male catkins loosen into long, yellow pollen capsules that release their grains into the wind.
The rare early hairstreak butterfly has been observed laying eggs on only two native plants: American beech, its primary host, and beaked hazelnut. Beaked hazelnut is the main larval host plant in the Great Lakes area and West Virginia. The lar
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