Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazel

Beaked Hazel

Beaked Hazel
Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Corylus, from the Latin for hazel
  • cornuta, from the Latin, "having a horn or antler"
  • Common Name, from the shape of the fruit


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Hamamelididae
        • Order Fagales
          • Family Betulaceae, the Birches
            • Genus Corylus, the Hazels, 15 species, most of which occur in Asia.
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 19507


  • A ¼, ½, ¾, º, é
  • Leaves
  • Stem
  • Roots
  • Flowers
    • Sepals
    • Petals
    • Stamens
    • Pistils
    • Ovary superior (within blossom) inferior (below flower)
  • Fruit
  • Seed
  • A tall deciduous, native, perennial shrub, or occasionally small tree; multistemmed and loosely spreading, 5'-12' tall.
  • Leaves alternate, toothed and bright green.
  • Buds small and round, on slender twigs.
  • Twigs brown, slender, and zigzagged. The current year's twigs are hairy.
  • Female flowers are borne in pedent catkins on the previous year's twigs. Male flowers are borne singularly from small rounded buds and have bright red stigmas. Male flowers appear in the form of small catkins in fall, pollinating tiny red female flowers in the spring.
  • Bark smooth, light brown, often with a white striping.
  • Fruit a round, smooth nut with a very hard shell, enclosed in a leafy sac which protrudes beyond the nut like a beak and is covered with stiff hairs. These sacs are borne singularly, or in groups of two or three, at the end of the current year's twigs.


  • Identifiable as
  • Distinguished from
  • Field Marks


  • Alaska to Newfoundland,
  • Across North America.


  • Forest understory and edges; tolerates fairly heavy shade, especially from tall, old trees but grows best and produces more fruit in full sun.
  • Prefers well-drained soil, but can grow on the edges of wet sites.


  • Aboveground parts easily killed by even light fire.
  • Because of their moisture requirements, seeds probably do not survive the high temperatures and drying associated with fire.



  • The nuts are tasty and in the past were much more commonly eaten by humans.


  • Source of edible, wild hazel nuts


  • Sexually by seed
  • Flowers
  • Assexually by
  • Reproduces by seed and vegetatively
  • Vegetative: sprouts from lateral root suckers after its aerial crown has been removed.
  • Seed dispersal by small mammals and birds.


  • Transplanting small root suckers from larger plants can be done quite successfully with a moderate amount of care. Layering also works.
  • Seed is best method for larger numbers of plants, but is diffficult. Red squirrels collect the nuts just before they are ripe and strip the shrub. Collect nuts promptly when husks start to turn brown. Store nuts in a dry place for a few days and remove the husks.
  • Seeds have poor viablity in storage and must remain moist. Two to six months of chilling is required for germination. Germination rates are low.
  • Seed survival is low due to animal predation.Nuts best planted in a screened bed to keep out squirrels.


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Cultural Requirements
    • Sun
    • Soil
    • Water
    • Spacing
    • Fertilization
  • Size 12"-18"W x 12"-18"H
  • Growth rate
  • Good for
  • Cultivars include
    • variety 'Alba', with
  • Cultivars and species available by mail order from specialty suppliers or at local nurseries
  • A good choice for an understory shrub when rebuilding forests, or just to add to a wooded area lacking diversity. Like many shrubs, hazelnut plays an important role in nutrient cycling within a forest. Its leaves are rich in calcium and manganese and help fertilize nearby trees and other plants.
  • Useful for plantings around the home where some shade and protection are available. Does not tolerate much wind; grows poorly in open windbreaks, but can be used along streambanks.
  • A spreading shrub that likes the moist well-drained soils of aspen and aspen-spruce forests. The flowers appear early to mid-May before the leaves open.



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Last updated on 29 August, 2004