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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 3 | Hamamelidaceae

1. Hamamelis Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 124. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 59, 1754.

Witch-hazel [Greek name used by Hippocrates for medlar, Mespilus germanica Linnaeus]

Trilopus Adanson

Shrubs or small trees , suckering or bearing stolons, not aromatic and resinous; twigs, young leaves, and flower buds stellate-pubescent. Bark gray to gray-brown, smooth or slightly roughened. Dormant buds naked, stellate-pubescent; terminal bud and 1 of each pair of lateral buds stalked, with 2 subtending scales. Leaves short-petiolate. Leaf blade broadly elliptic to obovate, pinnately veined, base oblique, cuneate, margins repand to sinuate, apex rounded to acute or short-acuminate. Inflorescences axillary, (1-)3(-5)-flowered, stalked clusters. Flowers bisexual, appearing before or with leaves; calyx lobes 4, reflexed, adnate to ovary; petals 4, yellow or orange to deep red, liguliform, circinnate in bud, notched or truncate, sometimes pointed; stamens 4, very short within cup; anthers introrse, dehiscing by 2 valves hinged adaxially on connective; staminodes 4, opposite petals, bearing nectar; styles 2, subulate, spreading to recurved. Capsules solitary or 2-3 together, fused with persistent tubular calyx, stylar beaks very short, loculicidally 2-valved, woody, appressed stellate-pubescent, explosively dehiscent. Seeds 2 per capsule, black, glossy, bony, not winged. x = 12.

Species 4 (2 in the flora): temperate regions, e North America, e Asia.

In Hamamelis , the explosively dehiscent capsules may eject the seeds to 10 m. The Japanese species H . japonica Siebold & Zuccarini, with reddish to yellow flowers, suggests an affinity with H . vernalis . Both Asian species, H . japonica and H . mollis Oliver of China, and the hybrid H . × intermedia Rehder (= H . japonica × H . mollis ), with a number of cultivars, are widely cultivated.


Bradford, J. L. and D. L. Marsh. 1977. Comparative studies of the witch hazels Hamamelis virginiana and H. vernalis. Proc. Arkansas Acad. Sci. 31: 29-31. De Steven, D. 1983. Floral ecology of witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). Michigan Bot. 22(4): 163-171. Fulling, E. H. 1953. American witch hazel--History, nomenclature, and modern utilization. Econ. Bot. 7(4): 359-389. Jenne, G. E. 1966. A Study of Variation in North American Hamamelis L. (Hamamelidaceae). M.S. thesis. Vanderbilt University. Sargent, C. S. 1890-1902. The Silva of North America.... 14 vols. Boston and New York. Vol. 5, pp. 3-5. Sargent, C. S. [1902-]1905-1913. Trees and Shrubs.... 2 vols. Boston and New York. Vol. 2, pp. 137-138. Shoemaker, D. N. 1905. On the development of Hamamelis virginiana. Bot. Gaz. 39: 248-266. Steyermark, J. A. 1934. Hamamelis virginiana in Missouri. Rhodora 36: 97-100. Steyermark, J. A. 1963. Flora of Missouri. Ames.

1 Flowers appearing in autumn, faintly fragrant; petals pale to deep yellow, rarely reddish, 10–20 mm; staminodes conspicuously dilated; leaves not persistent in winter, blade broad-elliptic to nearly rounded or obovate, base strongly oblique and rounded, sometimes somewhat cuneate, surfaces abaxially pale green, not glaucous; plants suckering.   1 Hamamelis virginiana
+ Flowers appearing in winter, distinctly fragrant; petals reddish or deep red to orange, occasionally yellow, 7–10 mm; staminodes not dilated or slightly so; leaves often persistent in winter, blade mostly obovate, base narrowed to somewhat cuneate, rarely rounded, weakly oblique, surfaces often abaxially glaucous; plants stoloniferous   2 Hamamelis vernalis

Lower Taxa


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