Beaked Hazel - Corylus cornuta

Hazel bushes are a very common shrub in the region. The mature nuts are about half the size of filberts and are enclosed in a prickly covering with a "beak". The edible nuts are readily sought by squirrels and chipmunks and usually removed from the bush when barely mature. The hazel "flowers" are wind pollinated in the spring and the male and female flowers are on separate parts of the bush. The male catkins have pre-formed in the fall and will expand in the spring to release pollen.

The female flowers are evident only from the red, feathery stigmas. This is quite common with wind pollinated plants, since showy petals would be redundant. Also for trees and shrubs that are wind pollinated, this occurs before the leaves come out, which would impede pollen distribution. For northern shrubs, like hazel, spring weather can affect pollination. In March of 2012, the air temperature was very much above seasonal, but without the ground temperature having time to warm up to allow sap to flow upwards. As a consequence, many of the catkins dried up before releasing any pollen. The female flowers only expand when the ground has started to thaw out and many did not get pollinated, hence a very low hazel nut yield in the fall.