Monday, November 1, 2010

Wildflower of the Month/November-Witch- Hazel

Witch- Hazel
The Witch- Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a common shrub of our region.  It can be found throughout our region at all elevations. Dry soils, wet areas and everything in between; this is not a finicky plant.
The bark and leaves are astringent; the extract, also referred to as witch hazel, is used medicinally. Extracts from its bark and leaves are used in aftershave lotions and lotions for treating bruises and insect bites. Witch-hazel helps to shrink and contract blood vessels back to normal size, hence its use as the active ingredient in many hemorrhoid medications. It is also a common treatment for postnatal tearing of the perineum. The seeds contain a quantity of oil and are edible. It is also used in treating acne.

This late fall flowering shrub often goes unnoticed; until the leaves are gone.  But, makes its presence known as the yellow flowers stand out on our barren landscapes.  I have seen some ornamental varieties; with flowers of oranges and reds.  They could be something interesting in a winter themed landscape; mixed with some of the various winterberries.

During the month of November; take a drive down your favorite country road.  You will soon realize, just how common this late autumn bloomer is.

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