Common Witch-Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana Hamamelidaceae

Other names

Virginia Witch-Hazel, Witch Hazel

Growth habit


Native distribution

Native to the Finger Lakes Region, Canada to GA, West to NE and AR


Dry to moist, but not wet. Adaptable to different soil types.


Collect the unopened capsules into a closed paper bag. Store seeds dry. Cold moist stratify for 60-120 days. Difficult to germinate.

Biocultural value

Best known for its astringent properties, witch hazel has been used by the Haudenosaunee in many ways. New mothers are given witch hazel tea to prevent hemorrhage after childbirth. The kidneys are regulated with a strong twig-tea along with an application of a bark poultice. Arthritis, sore limbs, bruises, and insect bites are treated with witch hazel. Coughs and colds are treated with a strong tea made of the young branches.


Mundy Wildflower Garden, Urban Tree Collection, Houston and Grossman Ponds, Comstock Knoll and Rhododendron Collection, Nevin Welcome Center, Treman Woodland Walk, Bald Hill and Caroline Pinnacles, Coy Glen, Edwards Lake Cliffs Preserve, Fischer Old-growth Forest, Slaterville 600, McLean Bogs, Eames Bog, Purvis Road Wetlands Natural Area, Ringwood Ponds, South Hill Swamp

Source of plant

Broken Arrow Nursery, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Chase Brother's Nursery, Princeton Nurseries, Robert Mower, Moses Nurseries, Schichtel's Nursery


Small tree or large shrub with several large, crooked, spreading branches forming an irregular, rounded, open crown, reaching 20' to 30' in height and 15' to 20' in spread. Fall color a good yellow; can bespectacular. Flowers yellow, fragrant, composed of four strap-like petals 3/4" to 4/5" long; calyx lobesare yellowish brown inside. Flowers borne in 2- to 4-flowered cymes in mid-October or later; plants areoften in full fall color at time of flower, thus reducing the efffectiveness of the floral display. Blooming period lasts 2 to 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Special characteristics

fall color, flowering season, fragrance