homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Hamamelis virginiana - L.
                 
Common Name Witch Hazel, American witchhazel, Common Witchhazel, Virginian Witchhazel, Witchhazel
Family Hamamelidaceae
USDA hardiness 3-8
Known Hazards Avoid long-term use due to cancer risk (from high tannin content). Avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 1g ingested can cause vomiting, nausea, impaction. Topical use may cause dermatitis [301].
Habitats Edges of dry or moist woods, in rich soil and on the rocky banks of streams[43, 82]. The best specimens are found in deep rich soils[229].
Range Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Wisconsin and south to Texas and N. Florida.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary
Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Early winter, Late fall, Late winter, Mid fall, Mid winter. Form: Rounded, Vase.

Hamamelis virginiana Witch Hazel, American witchhazel, Common Witchhazel, Virginian Witchhazel, Witchhazel


Hamamelis virginiana Witch Hazel, American witchhazel, Common Witchhazel, Virginian Witchhazel, Witchhazel
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Hamamelis virginiana is a deciduous Shrub growing to 5 m (16ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from Sep to November, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms
Hamamelis androgyna Walter. Hamamelis corylifolia Moench. Trilopus nigra Raf.
Habitats
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Seed.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Seed - raw or cooked[232]. An oily texture[4, 102, 177, 213]. The seeds are about the size of a barley grain and have a thick bony coat[2]. The reports of edibility must be treated with some suspicion, they all seem to stem from one questionable report in the 'Medical Flora' of Refinesque[2]. A refreshing tea is made from the leaves and twigs[102, 105, 177, 257].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antidiarrhoeal;  Astringent;  Haemostatic;  Homeopathy;  Miscellany;  Sedative;  Tonic.

Witch hazel bark is a traditional herb of the North American Indians who used it to heal wounds, treat tumours, eye problems etc[254]. A very astringent herb, it is commonly used in the West and is widely available from both herbalists and chemists[222]. It is an important ingredient of proprietary eye drops, skin creams, ointments and skin tonics[238]. It is widely used as an external application to bruises, sore muscles, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, sore nipples, inflammations etc[238]. The bark is astringent, haemostatic, sedative and tonic[4, 14, 21, 165, 171, 222]. Tannins in the bark are believed to be responsible for its astringent and haemostatic properties[222]. Bottled witch hazel water is a steam distillate that does not contain the tannins from the shrub[222], this is less effective in its action than a tincture[238]. The bark is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, colitis, dysentery, haemorrhoids, vaginal discharge, excessive menstruation, internal bleeding and prolapsed organs[238]. Branches and twigs are harvested for the bark in the spring[238]. An infusion of the leaves is used to reduce inflammations, treat piles, internal haemorrhages and eye inflammations[213]. The leaves are harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use[238]. A homeopathic remedy is made from fresh bark[232]. It is used in the treatment of nosebleeds, piles and varicose veins[232].
Other Uses
Cosmetic;  Miscellany;  Rootstock;  Tannin;  Wood.

Used as a rootstock for the ornamental species in this genus[182]. The plant is very rich in tannin[7]. It is used cosmetically as an ingredient in almost any preparation made to relieve capillary weaknesses[7]. The stems have been used for water divining[257]. Wood - heavy, hard, very close grained[82]. It weighs 43lb per cubic foot[235]. The trees are too small to be a useful lumber source[229].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Pest tolerant, Specimen, Woodland garden. Prefers a moist sandy loam[14, 130] in a sunny position[1], though it tolerates some shade[14]. Prefers a rich well-drained soil[1]. Dislikes dry limy soils but will succeed in a calcareous soil if it is moist[130]. Prefers a position sheltered from cold drying winds in a neutral to slightly acid soil[200]. A very hardy plant tolerating temperatures down to about -35°c[184]. Plants seldom produce seeds in Britain[4]. Witch hazel is a widely used medicinal herb. The bark is harvested commercially from the wild in N. America[61]. The twigs have been used in the past as dowsing rods for water divining[229]. A slow growing shrub, it takes about 6 years to flower from seed[200]. The flowers have a soft sweet perfume[245]. This species is notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: North American native, Attracts butterflies, Fragrant flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Propagation
Seed - this can be very slow to germinate. It is best to harvest the seed 'green' (as soon as it is mature but before it has dried on the plant) around the end of August and sow it immediately in a cold frame[80, 98]. It may still take 18 months to germinate[200] but will normally be quicker than stored seed which will require 2 months warm stratification then 1 month cold followed by another 2 weeks warm and then a further 4 months cold stratification[113]. Scarification may also improve germination of stored seed[80]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Overwinter them in a greenhouse for their first winter and plant out in late spring[78]. Layering in early spring or autumn[78, 200]. Takes 12 months. Good percentage[78]. Softwood cuttings, summer in a frame[200].
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment
 
Author
L.
Botanical References
1143200
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment/link

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Hamamelis virginiana  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design
Habitats
Translations

Content

Content Help
Bookshop
Support Us
Blog
Links
Old Database Search
Suppliers
Contact
About Us
News
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email newsletter. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.